In the past,it seemed that there were many barriers to robots being able to perform critical tasks necessary for being a doctor, lawyer, or dentist, but it seems that these barriers are being broken down by increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligences, and new approaches to segmenting work.
Robots still can’t “think” the way people think, but there are many things that they can do better. For example, they can analyze large amounts of data to gain a comprehensive understanding of the constantly-changing field of dentistry. This means that they will very soon be able to diagnose dental conditions as well as–or better than–human dentists. With the proper use of diagnostic technologies, they may be able to identify areas of decay or enamel weakness in order to determine whether a filling or dental crown is necessary.
Already, artificial intelligence is transforming the way we do dentistry. Invisalign, for example, is orthodontic treatments designed by a computer, and even traditional braces treatments these days are increasingly designed with the aid of a computer.
But Will We Trust Them?
People already have a lot of anxiety about coming to the dentist–that’s what sedation dentistry is for–how will they respond when their dentist is literally inhuman? Would you be comfortable having a robot drilling your teeth?
It would certainly require a period of adjustment, but people would probably come around. Consider the widespread adoption of LASIK–laser vision correction. This procedure is primarily performed by a computer-controlled laser that operates on one of our most sensitive organs. Especially in the all-laser version of the procedure, the ophthalmologist is reduced almost to the role of a tech who punches numbers in on a console. And yet most people feel comfortable with the procedure.
A robot dentist would be able to accommodate for your slight movements, and would respond to your requests to pause. It may even be able to anticipate your discomfort using complex monitoring of your nerve responses to know when you have been properly anesthetized.
For Now, a Human Touch
Although there may be nothing we can do to stop the coming of the robot dentists, for now we believe that dentistry depends on the human brain, hand, and, most of all, heart to be done properly.