Data Science for Dental Surgery

Dental practitioners and researchers are increasingly amassing large and varied data sets across multiple dental subspecialties. In addition to electronic dental record (EDR), most widely mentioned sources of digital dentistry include CAD/CAM and intraoral imaging, quantitative light-induced fluorescence for caries detection, computer-aided implant dentistry, intraoral and extraoral digital radiography, stereolithographic and fused deposition modeling.

Together with oral microbiome, metabolomic, genetic and immune biomarkers, these data sets provide a very rich data resource at molecular, genetic, cell, organ, and system levels which require systematic application of data science to fully support continuous knowledge discovery cycle. Combining these data sets with information for electronic medical records (EMR), billing information, characteristics of providers, healthcare organizations and environment data could significantly facilitate evidence-based dental care delivery, generate new disease prevention and treatment strategies, and greatly advance the practice of precision dentistry. Though dental care practitioners are pivotal in advancing continuous knowledge discovery and improving quality of dental care delivery, comprehensive use of data science methodologies is still limited in dentistry. Thus, it is critical to equip dental professionals with hands-on understanding of major foundations of data science.

Engaging dental students in data science projects early in their career will help create new generation of oral health professionals fully equipped to lead precision dentistry initiatives. However, current dental school curriculum does not provide this opportunity. The goal of this 3-year project is to address this gap by developing learner-centered introductory data science course fully integrated with dental school curriculum. The resulting course will be fully aligned with the focus of Columbia University on precision medicine and dental school efforts to prepare oral health professionals leading the field in the future.

About the Collaboratory Fellows Fund:
Technology and massive data are reshaping society in profound ways. To be effective, the leaders of tomorrow will need to understand how these transformations are impacting their professions, now and in the future. The Collaboratory Fellows Fund is developing the coursework to allow students to master the technical skills and cultivate the creative thinking to confront the unique challenges in their chosen careers.