Docomo, Tohoku Uni to use AI for gum disease detection

30 May 2019

NTT Docomo and Tohoku University have launched a research initiative to jointly develop a service using AI technology to detect periodontal disease.

The AI-based service will photograph a person's gums with a smartphone and analyze gum color and shape, compensating for photo brightness and camera shake, to determine the risk of periodontal disease.

Docomo said the service combines the operator’s expertise in AI technology with Tohoku University's expertise in oral diseases and extensive data on medical examinations and research.

It provides a practical, everyday solution to help users to understand their personal risks by facilitating better communication with dentists and increased examinations aimed at preventing early-stage periodontal disease from becoming serious.

Docomo and Tohoku University also plan to use their AI technology for the detection of additional oral diseases, such as temporomandibular disorders and oral cancer.

A device-based tool for determining disease risks is slated for commercial launch by March 2023.

In Japan, periodontal disease is present in 61% of adults in their 20s, 71% in their 40s and 75% in their 60s, according to a survey conducted by Japan's Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2016.

Confirmation of the disease requires going to dental office to be examined, which is often inconvenient for working people.

The Japanese Society for Oral Health Magazine estimated in 2018 that only 4.3% of people between the ages of 40 and 70 receive examinations and many do not consult dentists until symptoms become severe.

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