🤖 Everyone is familiar with AI for dental radiographs, but beyond this use case, the clinical applications of AI in dentistry have been limited until now. Listen in to hear Matt chat with Dr. Amreesh Khanna, CEO of OraQ AI, on how AI is changing diagnostics for both the provider and the patient.

Watch below or tune in on Spotify/Apple Podcasts! An auto-generated transcript is also below.

You can find more about Amreesh and OraQ AI at the following places:
Website: https://www.oraq.ai/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amreesh-khanna/

Hello everyone, welcome back to another episode of Kinda Different, a dental podcast where we talk about innovation in dentistry. We connect with some of the best people out there. I'm super thrilled for our guest today to introduce himself and tell us all about what he's building and how he's thinking about the world because he is a really smart dude.
And then we talk about how we can all together make dental care more human. It is a joint effort, it takes all of us. I am Dr. Matt Allen, CEO and co-founder of DifferentKind and your host for Kinda Different.
Super thrilled to be with you all today. And Dr. Amreesh Khanna, OraQ AI CEO and founder. Thank you so much for joining us today.
I could not be more thrilled to have you on. I have a ton of questions that I have just ready to ask you and to learn from you and all of those things. So thank you so much for taking the time to join us.
I would love for you to introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about what you're building at OraQ and we'll dive in.
Great, thank you so much, Matt, for having me on the podcast. It's been awesome getting to know you and all the great things that you're up to and really appreciate the opportunity to be here today with you. So yeah, a little intro on myself.
So I'm a dentist from Canada, Calgary, Canada, and we were just talking about how our views from our backyards are pretty similar here between Denver and Calgary, right along the Rocky Mountains, right? So born and raised in Calgary, Canada. I've been practicing for coming out on 17 years here now and Canadian University of Alberta grad did a GPR down in the US in Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
And so practiced many years in kind of surgical care, complex care, IV sedation, implants, grafting, all that kind of stuff. Dental sleep medicine were all the things that I love doing from a clinical perspective and then pivoted into this whole world of technology here over the past few years and innovation. So that's where we are and how OraQ sorta came about.
I always share a unique snippet of my entrepreneurial journey. So five years into me associating, we bought our first practice. My wife and my brother both dentists as well too and we said, okay, let's dive into our first foray of ownership and then woke up to a phone call one June morning, a year later to find out that the 100 year flood hit Calgary and our practice was literally, I was living downtown, practice was downtown and then literally had to watch our million dollar investment wash away before our eyes.
So Sharon, because it really was the start of my real entrepreneurial journey. And I think what forced me into thinking differently on innovation, resilience, how do we come out of adversity and what do we need to do? And I had to support my patients still, I had to support our team, rebuild our practice, grew our practice to more than double the value, bought another location.
And then I was like, okay, maybe we're onto something here and do I keep building that route? And then started seeing, hey, all those dentists look at patients a little bit differently. And it didn't correlate to how many years we were out in a new grad versus a doc that's 30 years out.
And my hygienist would tell me, hey, you go in to do a recall and we know that you're gonna talk about five things and another doc is maybe only talking about two. And patients are leaving with that story that we often hear when a new patient comes in the door that, hey, why didn't the last dentist tell me this? Or one dentist told me something, another one told me something else, are we selling them per se on treatment?
And so that's started the gears turning in the good old buzzword of AI in like 2019, 2020. And I said, okay, let me see if there's a way to incorporate technology and understand, you know, how can we, what I call bring the mind and the wisdom of a thousand dentists to the center of the patient relationship and help dentists look at patients all the same way, uncover all opportunities of care from a value-based care perspective, really do what's best for the patient, but also give full transparency and ownership of oral health data back in the hands of the patient. So patients can leave feeling empowered and being able to say, hey, okay, I understand why my dentist is recommending that crown that maybe a previous dentist didn't talk to me about, and the two's not bothering me, but it makes sense now, right?
And I can make the decision when I'm ready. So that's what OraQ is all about, driving precision care, chair side. How do we ensure that we're, as I said, uncovering opportunities of care and giving that transparency, so ultimately we can support patient treatment acceptance and grow dental practices the right way.
Amazing, man. Well, let's dive in then, because I mean, there's so much there. And I feel like OraQ is so unique in so many ways because many of the applications of AI in oral health thus far, certainly the most well-known is, you know, radiographs and imaging, right?
And then I think there's some stuff that's kind of come into like conversational analytics and you know, some of these other places where it's like, hey, that's important. I mean, obviously a different kind, we're using AI as well to do things with our data and understand that and help people understand, you know, how the world can look. I think a huge gap that I have seen certainly in our space is really being able to do that on a clinical level beyond just radiographs.
Radiographs are obviously clinical. And so from your perspective, you know, you're obviously taking into account a lot of information at that point. You know, just kind of walk us through that like journey of, hey, here's this like clinical innovation tool that is probably pretty different for a lot of dentists, right, because they're pretty used to doing a lot of that themselves.
So how did, like, you know, it's just, it's new, it's interesting, and there's not a lot of analogs for it out there. And so just kind of walk us through some of the ways that you've thought about it, some of the things that you've heard, et cetera. I just think it's such an interesting way of using technology to, you know, really build this kind of clinical standard of care, if you will.
Yeah, no, thank you. And I think, you know, you hit the nail on the head when you said we're looking at a lot of data and we're looking at a lot of things in a different way. And a lot of it is clinical information, like what are we evaluating on our patient holistically, everything from their medical health to what are we, you know, interpreting and diagnosing off of whether it be a x-ray, an image, a 3D scan, a CBCT, all these other adjuncts to our day-to-day evaluation of a patient.
But ultimately our focus really is on the major diagnostic opportunities in the dental practice every day, which is recall exam and new patient exam, right? So every time we sit in our chair and we look in a patient's mouth, because we know if we can look at everything properly, hey, we're doing what's best for the patient, but we're also filling our dental chairs at the same time, right? And so those are the two kind of key areas that we've launched with today.
We have a limited exam component as well too, which is an easy entry point for our solution and how we can support high volume, busy practices that maybe aren't looking at that sort of time model today, but are very interested in how to implement. And what we do is we look at how can we always roll up meaning from data in a quick and easy way and to what you said, standardizing it. Because even if me and you look at a patient case here together, if we have all the photos, x-rays, clinical data, and everything in front of us as if the patient's sitting in our chair, we're both gonna interpret it slightly differently, right?
And we bring our own lens of how we were educated, our own experiences, what past patients were sitting in our chairs that stuck out, that we always remember to look for that one thing now or whatever it is and areas of interest, right? Like maybe one of us loves Invisalign and the other one's really into cosmetic dentistry or something. So we're always kind of hunting and mining for the stuff we like, right?
But hey, what if we don't know something? What's being missed, right? And I give obstructive sleep apnea and dental sleep medicine always as an easy example because we did a study two years back and found that in only 14% of dentists out there even screen for OSA.
So I mean, huge opportunity for patient impact in terms of quality of life and what we're doing to help them medically. And it's also a great opportunity for care within the dental practice, right? I mean, our dentistry is more predictable if we found out that the underlying cause of that wear, for example, was related to an airway issue rather than us just giving night cards to everybody, right?
So now we're not worried about our crowns and our fillings breaking and patients unhappy and that type of thing. So how can we bring that to everybody even if they haven't been trained in it, right? And so back to your question about like, how do we look at the data?
Like we're looking at everything from before a patient comes in the door. So from medical, dental, pre-intake, we're screening for certain things, whether it be sleep, protective factors, perio, occlusion, all these different areas on patients bite, for example, to even before they walk in the door. So that when a patient is gonna be coming in today at noon, we can look in our morning huddle or the moment before we jump into that operatory and look in OraQ wellness profile and already see risk scores developing on that patient.
So whether it's us or hygienists or assistants, we're going in there equipped with already some effective ammo to be able to drive the patient experience in a different way. Then what we do is we guide a clinical examination. So it's done in a consistent format.
So we validated all this information from all the research and everything out there, layered it into our own models and then said, okay, how can we make the data collection easy? We know staffing is a big issue in the dental world today, especially post COVID still. Like we're all struggling with getting the right people, staying on the team, turnover, all those kind of things, so we don't have the time to now train a new assistant on, hey, this is how I do my exam.
And though we have templates even sitting in the PMS, sometimes it's not followed, right? And that was what we found before too. So we've got a quick and easy way to follow that a dental team can fill in that information.
And then every bit of data that's being captured is always rolled up back to this wellness profile. So we're seeing the risk change, the patient's seeing a change, and then we guide the dentist with the mind and the wisdom of a thousand dentists. So that's all research-backed protocols that says, okay, because this patient's profile looks like this, consider this, this, and this.
And I say, hey, if I had my favorite mentor in my shoulder, when we go to our CE courses and things like that, we know they'd be like, well, because the patient's got this wear profile and they remember the medications that they're on and their cavity risk exists or biomechanic risk exists, we gotta think about these things rather than just jumping to treatment. Because often we just jump right away to like patient needs a spelling, they need this crown, they need this appliance, maybe they need ortho, whatever it is. So helps us think a bit differently all while the patient's in the chair, and then show it to the patient.
So the moment the patient sits up, they get it in the palm of their hands. And that's been the conversation changer because patients are seeing these, their profile and saying, okay, like they're asking the questions. And that's why I say the other big unique aspect to OraQ is that we're the only clinical AI patient engagement tool.
So we're actually before, as I described with pre-intake, during with that really co-discovery process and after so the patient walks away with this is what's driving the conversations differently. And I know you're a big proponent of shared decision-making, right? And that's really what we're all about is like, how do we give that information also to the patient in an easy way so that they can understand it too, right?
And so, yeah.
100%, man. Well, I have a ton more questions there in terms of how that I think promotes humanity within practice and whatever. Let's put a pin in that for a minute.
Because I mean, there's just so much there. But I wanna have our audience learn just a little bit more about you. You're a fascinating person and somebody who I have grown to really respect in both as a clinician and as a entrepreneur, somebody who's building something that I think the world needs.
So one of the things that I love to learn how people share about themselves is like, people look on social media, whatever. But that's generally not the things that are the most important to us, unless you're maybe a total overshare, right? People are sharing way too many pictures of their kids or whatever, you're like, oh man, I don't know about that.
But tell us something that's super important to you, but a lot of people may not know about. We'd just love to hear like, hey, this is what makes Amreesh tick.
Yeah, I know, I mean, on social media, my presence is largely professional in nature with what I'm doing sort of with OraQ and my teaching and education and stuff like that. But what drives me every day is my family. I've got two amazing little girls, five and seven years old, and my wife, who's also a dentist too, but those dentists keeps our shop talk to a minimum always at home.
So, I mean, that's what makes what we do worth it and always ensuring that they see why and what we're doing right. And community is super important to me too. Something that was instilled in me as a child, my parents came to Canada from India in the late 70s and were always involved in the East Indian community and giving back and supporting, you know, whatever way.
And so that was always instilled in me. And, you know, through dental school, I founded a student-run clinic that's still in function today. And then also have a nonprofit called Cause the Smile.
But everything there for me is about like, how do we bring people together to give? And, you know, in Cause the Smile, our mission we say is to give beyond the walls of our clinics, right? I was really wanting to, I think there's a lot of amazing things being done in the dental space, giving back through dentistry and took a little bit of a different approach and said, hey, well, what else can, how else can we also support local grassroots needs and bring the dental community together with a larger business community?
I think when I got into this whole world of tech and startups, I was exposed to so many amazing people that I never would have ever crossed paths with before when I was just, you know, practicing dentistry, right? And not to say there's not amazing people within our industry, but there's very, they're looking at things in a completely different way So, I'm not gonna go into all of these things in one way and different industries and everything, but it really opened up my perspective and just eyes to like, whoa, there's so much more out there. So how can I kind of also enrich colleagues and have them exposed to that at the same time supporting giving back?
So we do a couple of events and that kind of thing. But certainly back to the family, like, you know, that's what it's about for me, is like, I want them to grow up knowing, hey, that like giving is a, you know, I call it a bucket that we can't fill. Like it's not one that needs to supersede any others.
We passionate about professional. We gotta make money to do the things we love and, you know, support our family and everything like that too. But it's just a separate bucket that if I'm not doing something specifically for that one, it doesn't get filled.
And I want my kids to be able to see that and see the, you know, the legacy that, you know, my parents instilled in me as well too, and how we can always build that going forward.
I love that, man. There's so much of what you're saying. I talk with my kids a lot about this idea, the Japanese concept of ikigai, right?
Like what the world needs, what you love, what you're good at, and what you can make money at. And finding, you know, something that's at the center of that, right, is kind of this ultimate thing, right? Of like, and I think a lot of times, you know, certain parts of that can, you know, kind of get highlighted at the expense of others, right?
But to be able to, you know, say, hey, like, no, this is, yes, like we're doing this, but we're also like finding ways to give and finding what the world needs in that or outside of that even, you know, like, is really cool. I just hear a lot of that in what you're saying. So.
Yeah, I love that.
I absolutely love it. Sweet. Well, let's talk a little bit about making dental care more human, because I think what you're talking about here in terms of what OraQ is doing and how you're kind of promoting awareness from patients and conversation engagement, like all of those different pieces, I think it's so, so crucial, obviously.
And I, you know, my lens is certainly that, right? So one of the things that I love to talk about is just, okay, like how do we operationalize some of what you're building, even if someone's not using your product or whatever, right? Like, so the question for you here is like, what's one, based on what you've learned through building OraQ and having those conversations and doing all of that, what's like one small, easily implementable tip that you feel like, hey, dental practices miss this a lot and they should be doing it more and it's something that patients want and need, et cetera.
So what's one thing that anyone listening to this podcast could go out and do tomorrow based on what you've learned from building OraQ?
Yeah, great question. And sometimes when I do some of my speaking engagements, I always say, how can you leave today thinking like an AI dentist, right? And not have to have a software just yet or whatever to help you do what you do.
And I think it's just bringing that lens and looking at things a little bit differently. We bucket risks into seven categories. So we look at medical, sleep disorder, breathing, occlusion, TMD, ortho, biomechanics, caries, perioesthetics.
So even if you just have those seven lenses on at all times when you're looking at a patient, how do you look at all the layers of the data that correlate with one another, right? Because I think that's the hard part for us as a human to do. And that's the amazing part of what machine learning and AI can do is piece these layers together.
But if you can think of those categories every time you're looking at a patient, and from a risk perspective, even just understanding where are they, like low, medium, or high in these areas, what happens is, in our early days of testing even, the concept even, it's just about, like it shifts our perception from reactivity and a reactive model of care to really risk reduction and prevention, right? And because now all of a sudden we start looking at, okay, well, they've got areas of decay, but why do they have the areas of decay? And what else is going on?
What can I do to prevent that? So I'm not just treating the decay with the fillings, but then maybe that does mean that it ties into perio and I need to bring them in for a sooner interval and we've got to consider SDF or remineralization therapy, other things. So it opens up the door for all these other things to think on that otherwise, if we're just looking for problems and just saying the solution right away, we would miss, right?
And so that's kind of how I say, okay, if you can think like an AI dentist tomorrow, think of these categories, think of it from how you can shift your thinking from reactivity to risk reduction prevention, you're gonna open up more opportunities of care, you're gonna have better conversations with your patients, and ultimately, you're gonna get busier in your practice too because you're gonna be doing more for your patient.
Yeah, that's great. Those seven categories, can you tell us those one more time? What are those seven categories again?
So medical being kind of the oral systemic health connection, sleep disorder breathing, so really evaluating airway disturbances or OSA essentially. Occlusion, DMD, ortho, so bite wear. Biomechanics, cracks in teeth, caries, vario aesthetics.
Awesome. That's great. And I think I've talked about this on this podcast before.
One of my favorite studies is this 2012 paper from Australia where they asked people what they value about their dental care. And one of the big learnings was like, hey, we don't feel like anyone talks to us about prevention. And I think a lot of times we just think about that as like, oh, just put some fluoride varnish on, which is great.
That's the first step maybe for a lot of people of just like, hey, we're not even talking about fluoride with people or whatever it is, right? It's a very basic thing, sealants for kids, whatever it is. But I think those categories are super helpful, is for me, and then kind of saying like, okay, cool.
You can be reactive in all of those categories or you can be preventive and focused on like, hey, how do we, yes, of course we're gonna treat what's going on, but how do we help you think about this holistically so that all of this stuff is continuing to be healthy for you in the long term?
That's amazing, I love it. So, so cool, so, so cool. Okay, one of the things that I think any entrepreneur anywhere has, right, is this idea of like a future state.
So, you know, we see a problem and we're trying to build something to fix it, make the world a different place. And so, tell us about, you know, where you see dentistry at right now, so the kind of like where it currently is, and where do you hope to take it to, right? Like at the end of your life, career, whatever it might be, through building OraQ, and whatever else you might do, and the rest.
You know, what do you hope dentistry, how does it look different, I guess, is the question there, when you're at the end of it. And specifically from, you know, the lens of maybe the patient, but also like I think the provider as well, because I think you, what you've built, like touches on both of those things. So, would love to hear.
Yeah, I know, you know, the big vision and the BHAG, as we call it, right? The Big Hairy Audacious Goal, really looking for like the future that we see in what we're building here with OraQ is that imagine a patient going into an office, sitting down in a chair, and you end up looking up at the screen, and Q guides you through an AI-driven precision exam. So it's truly precision to every patient in the chair.
We're getting that guidance and support from technology to help us zone in on what we really need to be looking at in that patient. And then that patient sitting up understanding, hey, here's my overall wellness profile. From here, I understand, okay, what I need to do from prevention, what I need to do to treat the reactive aspects of care today as well.
But then being able to track that patient longitudinally. So we're doing some very interesting work on research and development right now on our oral health index and really how we look at an overall evaluation on a patient so that within very easy to look at data parameters, each time a patient's in, we can say, are they improving in health or declining, right? And that would be different.
And I think the other piece that this involves is there's amazing technologies out there today in addition to what we're doing. And the imaging AI are doing some amazing stuff too. And it's like, how do we bring all these technologies together?
Because this is the hard part for companies like ours today is that we're still dealing with the data integration and the data interoperability issues. And ultimately, if we can all work together in some way, shape or form that feeds the ecosystem collectively, now our users, which are all us dentists, and our dentists users, which are our patients, are gonna have a much better flow and outcome with their care, right? So how do we get what's happening on that CBCT, the intral scan, medical wearables, all these kinds of things.
And I think that's what we really see with the vision with OraQ. We built this platform to be that central hub so that it can take in all these things. I mean, there's amazing people doing salivary testing right now, genomics, like all this stuff.
People who've been on your podcast, right? And it's like, how do we bring that together? Because they're focused on one area of something that's really important.
But then how do you relate that now to like all the other stuff, right? Because if we leave it up to us again, as we've found through our studies in the AI, there's gonna be variants, there's gonna be variability. And so the whole goal about using these technologies is to reduce the variance and reduce the variability, drive precision collectively.
And if we do that, I mean, you know, I would love to see a world where now we're improving the business health of a dental practice, the health of our patients, the health of our groups and DSOs, and how we interact with our payers as well too, right? And so we can really support evidence to show why they need to support, you know, covering care that is truly important as well.
That's amazing, man, there's so, like, so many thoughts. One of the big ones that just jumps out to me too is, I'm like a, I don't know, I don't talk, I think I'm gonna start again here. I don't think I've talked a lot about this on the podcast, but I'm like a kind of fitness nut in terms of like riding my bike all the time, and you know, whatever.
And you know, you start to see a lot of that data that comes from like wearables, right? Your Garmin, your Apple Watch, like whatever it is. And you're like, sweet, you can pretty much tell like, hey, here's what my fitness level is at, here's what my fatigue level is at, here's what my like training, you know, impetus was for yesterday, here's what it should be for today.
Like if you really wanna like know all that stuff, right? But from like a health perspective, you know, if we're thinking about oral health, right? Like, you know, it sounds like what you're saying is like something akin to that, where you're like, hey, if I just kind of have a pretty good idea of like, hey, here's what I need to do, here's where I've been, you know, all of these different pieces.
And it is this pretty consumable, you know, thing for people to understand based on what you're building. So I don't know if that's exactly, you know, that's what I'm kind of getting based on what you're saying. And I'm gonna think that that vision, you know, both for the providers, you know, the payers and the patients, you know, in that space is really impressive.
Yeah, and then just like, even with your example, it gives us information around patient experience, right? Like, what do you like? What do you do?
You know, you may not be listening to my dental recommendations, but you will never miss a bike ride, right? So how can I, you know, communicate better with you and kind of help you understand the need of whatever I'm recommending akin to that, right? And, you know, knowing that, hey, you are compliant in other things, maybe just not my recommendation.
So all these things, you know, some of it will integrate directly into like health parameters, others is just patient experience, right? And if we can understand both effectively, then we can, you know, help patients value what we're saying from both sides as well, right?
Yeah, totally, man. Well, this is awesome. I love it.
I love this conversation. I'm excited to continue in the future with you, both, you know, maybe on another future episode of a podcast or, you know, certainly in person at conferences and stuff. I would love, you know, for you to share if people want to learn more about you, they want to learn more about OraQ AI.
Where do they go? You know, give us some direction on that.
Yeah, thank you so much, Chad. To learn more about us, you can check us out on our website, which is oraq.ai. So that's oraq.ai.
And also feel free to email me, reach out to on LinkedIn. My email is an easy one. My first name, Amreesh, at oraq.ai again too, but happy to entertain conversations.
I mean, we are now in market and it's an exciting time. So really looking for enthusiastic dentists who really value what we've built here and working already with dental practices, groups, that kind of thing, and really looking to grow our customer base as well. So always open to those conversations.
Thank you again for the opportunity to be here and chat with you. Love what you guys are doing at DifferentKind as well and collaborating and meeting people like yourself. I know when we met last year at Dykma, I was just like so amazed hearing your journey too.
And it gave me a lot of inspiration and motivation to see another clinician that's taken the plunge into this whole other world. And I won't forget what you told me because you had said, hey, like just because we went to dental school for all these years doesn't mean we had to be a dentist for the rest of our life, right? And there's other things.
So I always remember that. And it, you know, again, was super inspiring for me because it's a big plunge to take. And yeah, so yeah, thank you, Matt.
And always great getting to chat with you as well too.
Awesome, man. Well, we certainly appreciate your perspective. Certainly appreciate who you are as a human and what you're bringing to the industry.
Keep on keeping on. Excited to see the progress that you continue to make. And we look forward to continue the conversation soon.
Thank you.