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Artificial intelligence is not replacing dentists – it is here to help

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Kunal Rai explains how using artificial intelligence (AI) technology can improve you and your team’s clinical confidence.

Please introduce yourself

Hi! My name is Dr Kunal Rai. I am the principal owner of Meliora Dental, a four-surgery mixed practice based in North Leeds. I am interested in aesthetics and implant dentistry, and I have an MSc in dental implant dentistry and a PG Dip in clear aligner therapy and restorative dentistry.

Before becoming a dentist, my first degree was in computer science with artificial intelligence (AI). Coming from an Asian family background, you are pre-conditioned to be a doctor, dentist, lawyer or engineer. You essentially need to have some sort of formal qualifications, so I initially did my A-levels in chemistry, biology and maths with dentistry in mind. 

However, during the Silicon Valley boom, I thought, ‘Why spend five years in dental school when I can earn the same amount doing computer science and with less stress?’ But when I started my internship, I dreaded sitting in front of a computer all day – I didn’t get to engage with people.

With my computer science degree and A-level subjects, I returned to university in 2010 to study dentistry at Charles University in Prague. But in my heart, I always had a sweet spot for technology and AI. 

How did you find out about Pearl?

When I started doing my VT, I found we were all interpreting X-rays differently. Different clinicians have different treatment opinions, which can become quite confusing for the patient, and indeed, they must think, ‘Which dentist should I go for?’ I wanted to address this issue when I started my practice.

I started researching on Google, spoke to a few providers, and discovered Pearl, a company whose approach stood out because it wasn’t overly salesy. Additionally, they offered a two-week trial period.

What are some of the benefits of using Pearl?

Pearl is very easily integrated, there was no hassle. Usually, you install something, and there are some frustrating teething issues for the first week. But with Pearl, everyone in the team knew what to do immediately. Setting it up was also very easy – our IT team were in touch with the Pearl team, and it was straightforward. We lost no historical data, so we had all the patients’ older X-rays available. 

Loading it up was no problem; everyone understood how to use it. We didn’t have to close the practice for a day of training – a quick online demonstration- and we were ready. The application is self-intuitive. 

As a business, it allows us to sell more private treatment as it helps the patient understand better. For instance, showing patients an X-ray with a 30% cavity helps them understand the need for a more extensive filling. So, from a sales perspective, ‘Oh, this will be a big filling. I’d rather have a white one’ helps to convert NHS patients to private work without having to act like a salesman – the patient understanding is much better.

Alternatively, when the cavity is small, and the fenestration is represented in percentage, the patient can leave and review it with another X-ray in a year. This feature allows the patient to see the progression and decide on the treatment options provided without pressure, inadvertently building trust and rapport and elevating communication.

What would you say to those apprehensive about embracing AI in dentistry?

We are living in an AI world. We are seeing people use ChatGPT for writing, for example. 

As dentists, we are apprehensive about using AI in dentistry because of the fear that it will replace us. But it’s not there to replace; it’s here to help. We should embrace it. 

It will, if anything, make us more robust with our notes because we live in a world of defensive dentistry now. AI allows us to build trust with our patients. Believe it or not, It will boost productivity and provide a better work-life balance

A question I often get is how does it work with associates? All you have to do is speak to your principal and have them on board with allowing access to the server. You will need to call Pearl and sign up. The software is on the central server; you can limit it to your personal use only or share it across all the practice surgeries – the price is the same. 

However, once everyone in the practice gets a feel for it, they will automatically start using it, making them more confident with their treatment planning and conversions. 

On a different note, for those who would like to collect Amex points, I think this is the only dental software that allows payment through Amex, so it’s a win-win situation!

To learn more about the power of AI in dentistry, visit

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