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LONDON, UK: According to Western folklore, children with a wiggly primary tooth can look forward to a visit from the tooth fairy, making an otherwise distressing experience a positive one. The creators of the Toothfairy mobile app, however, say that at-home dental care can provide a more comfortable experience for patients of all ages. With a £3 million (€3.5 million) funding boost, Drs Deepak Aulak and Kian Dhinsa hope that their app will challenge an industry that they say is ripe for disruption.
Toothfairy connects patients with dental professionals through a virtual platform that can be used to monitor a variety of dental problems. The service was developed by Aulak and Dhinsa—both of whom are King’s College London dentistry graduates—and company information states that it aims to supercharge dental care with the use of artificial intelligence (AI). The £3 million in seed funding (a form of early capital raising that typically provides investors with a share of equity) was announced on 1 October and it will add momentum to a young company that has already gained attention.
Investors were likely impressed by the fact that Toothfairy has been tested in the UK National Health Service (NHS) and given a 90% approval rating by NHS patients, 89% of whom said that it would reduce their need to visit emergency dental health services. Toothfairy also won the App of the Year award at the 2019 Dental Industry Awards.
How does the modern-day Toothfairy work?
According to the company, dentistry should be safe, quick and affordable. Toothfairy enables remote dental care by helping dentists to diagnose, treat and track dental problems in patients using a mobile phone interface. The range of dental services that are supported by Toothfairy include emergency care, the issuing of prescriptions, treatment for malocclusion and tooth whitening.
The company’s website provides documentation of selected cases, such as correction of overbite, spacing and crowding, all of which were planned using a 3D dentistry platform and treated using the company’s Toothy clear aligners.
In an article in UK technology news site UKTN, Aulak explained that the company’s advanced technology can make dental care more accessible. “From first-hand experience as dentists, we’ve seen [that] patients have to overcome many hurdles in servicing their oral health needs,” he commented.
Aulak added: “We are developing proprietary AI and image recognition technology to empower patients. With so many dental diseases preventable we are pioneering a new way for patients to uptake dental treatments and see a dentist on demand through amazing technology.”
A September study by researchers from King’s found that more than 75% of UK dental patients were comfortable using a video consultation to access dental care, a finding that Prof. Luigi Nibali, lead author of the study, partly attributed to the pandemic. “As people tend to be working from home, and travelling into cities less, online appointments are a solution to a busy work schedule, and to help maintain social distancing in hospitals,” Nibali, who is director of the postgraduate periodontics programme at King’s, commented in a press release.
“Patients are also able to access healthcare earlier, receive specialist care, minimise time off work and reduce travel over long distances to receive consultations,” he added.