Healthcare start-ups have revolutionized the healthcare delivery process for better patient experiences. Like we are seeing so many healthcare start-ups, especially pre and post-lockdowns, which are disrupting the way healthcare was being served and was being consumed by the patients. We have got different problems, challenges in the healthcare system like affordability, availability, and accessibility. But at the same time, we have got a lot of start-ups who are offering the right solutions to these kinds of problems and challenges.
There are so many oral problems of Indians, some of them being bad breath, tooth decay, gum diseases, oral cancers, and tooth erosion. India is considered the world capital for oral cancer. Problems of dental caries affect 60% of the population and periodontal diseases affect around 85% of the Indian population which is a huge number. In Medicircle, we are conducting Healthcare Startup series wherein we are featuring start-ups all over India and how they can benefit from their products and offerings.
Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali and Mr. Rajat Kabade are the co-founders of DentalDost. DentalDost is your oral wellness companion, delivering oral health diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis in the smartest way possible. It empowers you to self-assess your oral health with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). It was started in 2018. They have also launched a 24x7 helpline to better understand their patient's problems to diagnose their oral diseases.
What led to the foundation of DentalDost?
Rajat expresses, “Earlier we were doing dental blogging, focusing on content around oral care. The whole idea was to educate the Indian audience about the basics of oral care, which is lacking because it's not part of our primary education, which it should be. So, we build a team of dentists that educates patients on oral care and tips and tricks around the same. And this evolved into a helpline because a lot of patients started inquiring on the blog asking for our number. After all, there were real problems.”
DentalDost – How it works?
Dr. Vidhi says, “Patients are asked to click their intraoral images through five angles and upload in a format which is easily read by machine learning model. Now the ML technology pre-assess the images within seconds and the dental surgeon verifies the ML analyzed result for an ideal treatment option that the patient has. To add a more human touch, we even have our fleet of dental surgeons which are available 24x7. Other than this we would handhold you to the new habits that you should be forming like brushing twice, flossing, choosing the right type of tongue cleaner, using the mouthwashes if it if in the case is required, oil pulling, etc.”
Dental health facts
Dr. Vidhi explains, “Only 17% of the Indian population knows that there are five steps involved in oral care routine. People hardly talk about oral care; they do talk about skin and hair routine but not oral. Dental diseases whether gum-related or teeth-related is avoidable if we can incorporate small changes in our daily oral care routine, it can benefit in a long time. The sad reality about dental diseases is that they are irreversible. We believe in a holistic approach to oral health, whereby we emphasize preventive oral care.”
Innovative new technology – Machine learning algorithm
Rajat speaks, “There's a lot of research that's been done around medical diagnosis using x rays. But nobody has talked about the power of RGB images that a smartphone camera can click. In today's age, smartphone cameras are very sophisticated. So, we have trained our machine learning algorithm on 50,000 images of various patients. Then our team of dentists annotated these images, and we created our ML algorithm and subsequently the machine learning model. So, just by feeding data of your intraoral final images to our model data, we can educate you on 16 types of hard tissue diseases if they exist in your intraoral cavity. And for the future, we are also working on soft tissue detection. Through this, we would be able to identify early signs of oral cancer and some mucormycosis cases.”
Importance of oral hygiene
Dr. Vidhi emphasizes, “Just like we do physical exercises to keep our body fit, we should do some massage or exercise for our oral health too. Oil pulling helps in massaging facial muscles and is very good for gum health. Oil pulling is a very ancient ayurvedic technique which is being practiced for many years.”
Talking of Oil pulling technique, Dr. Vidhi illustrates, “take 1-2 teaspoon of edible coconut oil in your mouth and swish it inside your mouth for 15 minutes. In the beginning, you can start with 2-3 minutes. Swish it all over your gums for 15 minutes and then throw it in the trash. This is very helpful for facial massage. Many grave consequences could be prevented by doing this oil pulling.”
People should prioritize oral health hygiene
Rajat voices, “Your mouth is the entry to your body. So, keeping oral health hygiene should be the number one priority for anyone, especially in India. We have been actively blogging about dental content for over three years now. What we have observed post-COVID is a lot of people are very much active on the internet, and they are quite inquisitive to know their problems, they'll go on Google and search for the same, they eventually go to our app to self-assess and self-diagnose their intraoral health. We have seen patients especially in the age group of 24 - 55 coming to us, we actively serve 100 plus new patients a day. The patients either get in touch with us through the app or the telephonic phone call. 33% of them come for advice, 23% come for the second consultation for pre-existing disease, which they are aware of. 15% for cosmetics-related like correcting a smile, getting a diamond or golden crown. Smile designing is a very common thing these days. People are very much concerned about their look and smile.”
Rajat adds, “We have assigned a dedicated dental consultant to each of our users. So, they can anytime get in touch with that consultant. We have AI-based habit-forming features within the app as well as we push them through WhatsApp.”
DentalDost - Personalized solution for every individual
Dr. Vidhi tells, “Oral care routine is personalized for every individual to practice. We used to eat a lot of raw and fibrous food but now it has been converted to a lot of sugary packaged carbonated food. After having any sugary thing, we should rinse our mouth with warm water or can chew hard fibrous food like cucumber, tomato. Every individual has a different gum structure. So, if we are having an individual toothbrush, we need to have different toothpaste according to the chemical composition and medical condition of any individual."
Rajat says “We prescribe very individual and personal oral care products to all our patients. So, anybody who gets in touch with us, based on his medical conditions and diagnosis, we design an oral care package for them and recommend them to purchase and use that.”
Dr. Vidhi states, “Your mouth is a mirror of your body. It is such an open cavity which is reflecting the entire body. So, the way you take care of your mouth, shows what's going inside your body.”
(Edited by Renu Gupta)