A cohort of 18 start-up companies and independent innovators will present their novel oral health technologies at Forsyth dentech 2021. The scope of technologies includes pharmaceuticals, medical devices, probiotic nutraceuticals, AI-based software, dental consumer products, and more. A team of judges will select two presenters to win cash prizes, sponsored by CareCapital and Primerock Capital.
One of the presenters set to take the stage at Forsyth dentech 2021 is Dr. Wardah Inam, CEO of Overjet. Dr. Inam and her team recently secured $27 million in funding to expand Overjet’s artificial intelligence software into dental clinics around the country. We sat down with Dr. Inam to learn more about her background and her vision for the company.
Tell me about the path that led you to start Overjet.
I did my master’s and PhD at MIT working on autonomous systems, and then did a post-doctoral fellowship there as well in the computer science and artificial intelligence lab, working on biomedical sensing. I was then recruited to work at a company to do biomedical imaging. I have experience in machine learning and biomedical imaging but had no experience with dentistry.
A few years ago, I changed my dentist and got a treatment plan that was very, very different than what I had received before. That piqued my interest in the complexity of dental diagnostics. It was something that I realized technology could help solve and help improve, and that’s how I started. I quit my job and started shadowing dentists and learning more about the field.
What insights did you gain from spending time with dentists?
I learned that dentists have the most crazy, busy jobs. I’ve experienced dental care as a patient, but you don’t realize when the dentist has numbed you and the hygienist comes in, that means the dentist must get up from this very concentrated mindset they are in, move to another operatory, meet a new patient, look at and understand their data, and then convey what is needed to that patient as well. Then, they must come back to you and start the procedure again. Imagine a surgeon doing that!
The amount of work dentists have to do and the range of abilities they need to have while functioning during the day is seriously a lot. There were kids crying, a hygienist calling them, patients coming in. These dentists were eating lunch as fast as they could, and then they were back to work. They have to always be “on.” That’s where I think technology can assist in their crazy schedules.
What kind of technology does Overjet offer to dental clinics?
Overjet’s technology assist dentist and hygienists in diagnosing and patient communication. When the dentist walks into an operatory, a hygienist is collecting all this patient data and giving it to the dentist to make the diagnosis. With Overjet’s software, all that data has been pre-analyzed before they come in and relevant findings have been found, such that the dentist can make a comprehensive diagnosis, and then they can convey that information more effectively to the patient. Patients are no longer looking at this black, white, and grey Xray. It’s now an Xray with annotations on it, showing disease, depicting severity, with measurements for things like bone loss and other relevant clinical factors. It makes the communication piece much easier, which leads to patients becoming more involved with their oral health and making better decisions for themselves.
Using technology to assist dentists in comprehensive diagnoses and communications is crucial for the patients to get the right treatments. The treatment acceptance rate in dentistry is low, and that’s something that Overjet can help improve significantly.