Like other areas of healthcare, the dental industry is steadily embracing technology. But while much of it is in the orthodontic realm, other startups, like Adra, are bringing artificial intelligence into a dentist's day-to-day workflow, particularly in finding cavities, of what will be a $435.08 billion global dental services market this year.
The Singapore-based company was founded in 2021, but was an idea that started last year. Co-founder Hamed Fesharaki has been a dentist for over a decade and owns two clinics in Singapore.
He said dentists learn to read X-rays in dental school, but it can take a few years to get good at it. Dentists also often have just minutes to read them as they hop between patients.
As a result, dentists end up misdiagnosing cavities up to 40% of the time, co-founder Yasaman Nematbakhsh said. Her background is in imaging, where she developed an artificial intelligence machine identifying hard-to-see cancers, something Fesharaki thought could also be applied to dental medicine.
Providing the perspective of a more experienced dentist, Adra’s intent is to make every dentist “a super dentist,” Fesharaki told TechCrunch. Its software detects cavities and other dental problems on dental X-rays faster and 25% more accurately, so that clinics can use that time to better serve patients and increase revenue.
Example of Adra's software. Image Credits: Adra
“We are coming from the eye of an experienced dentist to help illustrate the problems by turning the X-rays into images to better understand what to look for,” he added. “Ultimately, the dentist has the final say, but we bring the experience element to help them compare and give them suggestions.”
By quickly pointing out the problem and the extent of it, dentists can decide in what way they want to treat it — for example, do a filling, a fluoride treatment or wait.
Along with third co-founder Shifeng Chen, the company is finishing up its time in Y Combinator’s summer cohort and has raised $250,000 so far. Fesharaki intends to do more formalized seed fundraising and wants to bring on more engineers to tackle user experience and add more features.
The company has a few clinics doing pilots and wants to attract more as it moves toward a U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance. Fesharaki expects it to take six to nine months to receive the clearance, and then Adra will be able to hit the market in late 2022 or early 2023.