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February 1, 2024

As we come to the end of the first month of 2024, it’s exciting to think where digital dentistry will head next. 

Last year, we saw the introduction of AI to dentistry and nearly every industry in the world. 3D printing continued to establish itself as an exciting innovation in dentistry, and IDS 2023 saw many new products introduced to the market.

Last year, our good friend Rune Fisker of 3Shape gave a unique insight into where the industry was heading. This has become an annual outlook, and this year is no different. If you’d like to see his previous predictions - and how correct he was - click here. 

Below, you will see his predictions for the year and my own thoughts as well, but I’d love to know what you think. Leave a comment 🙂

#1 Generative AI for everyone

The impressive capabilities of ChatGPT and the rapid progress of generative AI will continue to make artificial intelligence the dominant 2024 technology trend. 

In dentistry, we see exciting opportunities for its application within diagnostics, planning, and treatment i.e., AI-supported diagnostics of X-rays. 

In 2023, we witnessed just how far generative AI has come with the huge growth of 3Shape Automate. More than two million crown designs have been downloaded witha 92% design acceptance rate from the totally hands-free AI-powered service. Other applications include AI-driven automatic phone support and marketing. 

iDD says

No doubt there. Generative AI and AI in general will be a huge part of the dental landscape this year. We have already seen players like Pearl, Diagnocat, 3Shape Automate, and Dentbird establish themselves as market leaders, with many following the trend and entering the dental market. 

It will be interesting to see how different companies innovate in this space, rather than just another caries detection AI or segmentation AI. Very curious. Also, I plan to start reviewing different AI platforms. We need some straight answers of which are good and which are best avoided. 

#2 Intraoral scanner boom and transformation

The adoption of intraoral scanners by dentists and labs keeps growing. IOS penetration in the USA, Nordics, and Australia is now over 50%, with 33% of all lab cases in the states beginning from an intraoral scan. 

Most intraoral scanner users consider their scanner to be an efficient digital impressions solution, but I believe technological developments to scanners will soon transform the way we work and practice dentistry.

Digital Dentistry Valuation Image from Benco Dental

iDD says

Impressive stats were shared by Rune, who will no doubt be able to back up his claims given the data in the 3Shape ecosystem. 50% my friends! The digital dentistry is the future common trope is no longer relevant. It is here and now, well and truly. We are entering a much more mature market, and likely this number will continue to grow.

I am curious what the numbers are in the developing nations, which are expected to be around 20-30% and will skyrocket this year. We are seeing huge surges in uptake in regions like the Middle East. Scanners will continue to develop with more and more apps, AI, etc. Still, I think most clinicians only use them as an impression replacement. 

#3 3D printing resins fuelling the change 

Along with intraoral scanners, 3D printers are the hot equipment. The true game changer, though, is 3D printing material. 

Every month new and improved dental resins are released. In 2023, we saw a material breakthrough for 3D-printed dentures. 

This year we will continue to see progress in printed temporary and final crown materials. The solutions that currently generate the most excitement are Dentsply Sirona Lucitone and SprintRay Ceramic crown.    

iDD says

Agreed. I think everyone in the industry can feel and see the hype around 3D printing. In my opinion, there has never been so much excitement as in 3D-printed crowns. Spearheading this has been, no doubt, SprintRay, who have done an incredible job marketing 3D printing permanent crowns. They are like the Tesla of dental 3D printing! I am excited to see what other companies do to ‘catch up.’ Most dental permanent restoration resins were traditionally very bad and only seen as temporary. Companies like Pac-Dent, Ackuretta, Dentsply Sirona, Formlabs, etc - it will be interesting to see what they do.

#4 The digital consumer experience  

We are all familiar with a seamless digital consumer experience via smartphone apps or when shopping online. Dental patients are expecting that same digital consumer experience, but equally, so are dentists when they communicate with their lab and other treatment partners.  

We are seeing intraoral scans, x-rays, and treatment simulations being used more and more to engage patients – particularly in the first appointment. Offering patients a next-level simulated or interactive treatment proposal will increasingly become the standard of care. 

iDD says

Another great point by Rune. I personally do this and see it increasing in many practices. Our new patient examination is a total digital consumer experience. DSLR photos, scans, AI, reports, communication apps etc. These sorts of interactive treatment proposals, as Rune puts it, have no doubt helped us improve case acceptance. This level of service and explanation using the latest technology should become something everyone strives for. It results in better patient experiences for sure. 

#5 Cloud & platforms rolling in

One of the strongest underlying technology trends is moving data and software to the cloud to enable access to it from anywhere on any device. Moving forward, we will see many simple dental tasks managed from smartphones so professionals canwork from anywhere. 

The major dental technology companies continue to invest heavily in platforms for managing digital dentistry and truly open platforms will continue to gain a significant advantage over closed solutions.  

iDD says

Another great point, and we are seeing this industry-wide. SprintRay has a cloud platform. Dentsply Sirona is developing DS CORE. Medit has had a cloud platform since 2019. With how dentistry is practiced now in an increasingly digital world, it makes sense to have all your data in one place and accessible at any time. Rather than being stored locally. That reminds me, where is 3Shape’s cloud Rune? 😉 Maybe something we can hope for 2024.

And that is a wrap of the predictions of 2024.

In summary, AI, 3D Printing, Cloud Services, Increased Uptake of IOS scanners and of course this is all leading to better patient experiences and outcomes when properly utilized.

Buckle up everyone. It is going to be a fun 2024 for dentistry, with the industry not slowing down.

Did we miss anything? Leave a comment below.

About the author 

Dr Ahmad Al-Hassiny

Dr Ahmad is a global leader in digital dentistry and intraoral scanners, carrying out lectures as a KOL for many companies and industry. He is one of the few in the world who owns and has tested all mainstream scanners and CAD/CAM systems in his clinic. Dr Ahmad Al-Hassiny is a full-time private dentist in New Zealand and the Director of The Institute of Digital Dentistry (iDD), a world-leading digital dentistry education provider. iDD offers live courses, masterclasses, and an online training platform, with a mission to ensure dentists globally have easy and affordable access to the best digital dentistry training possible.

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