Applying Artificial Intelligence to Dentistry

May 20, 2020
Dr. Alex Jelicich

Over the last seven years in pre-and-postdoctoral programs at HSDM, Alex Jelicich, DMD17, MMSc20, logged a lot of hours in the clinic. It’s where the MIT graduate found inspiration for a unique business concept that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze clinical dental data with the goal of improving patient care and increasing profitability. As Jelicich prepares to graduate from his Prosthodontics program, he has a chance to launch his concept, Overjet, with funding from the Harvard’s President’s Innovation Challenge, a University-wide venture capital competition in which Overjet is competing as a finalist this week.

“Through my clinical experience during dental school and residency, I grew to appreciate the vast amount of information that a dentist needs to process in order to adequately diagnose and treatment plan a dental case,” Jelicich said. “I wondered to myself if there might be a way to use technology to aid dentists in detecting needed treatments and standardize the delivery of dental care. By collaborating with amazing dentists and engineers from Harvard and surrounding universities, we were able to develop artificial intelligence capable of achieving this goal,” he added.

Overjet startup teamOverjet uses computer vision algorithms to identify oral anatomy and diseases from dental x-rays and other patient records to determine the correct treatments for each patient. Jelicich sees a future in which dental insurance companies could use the software to automate the claim review process, reducing the cost of review and improving consistency. Dental group practices could identify necessary but missed treatments, measure the quality of care provided by their dentists, increase practice profitability, and standardize patient care.

Jelicich’s entrepreneurial outlook has been a constant throughout his education. While in his predoctoral program, he was a semifinalist in the MIT Sloan $25K Healthcare Innovation Competition, where he pitched an idea for a cloud-based platform that connects patients, dentists, and vendors. He credits Harvard’s Innovation Lab (i-lab) with providing additional connections and resources that helped him launch his latest business venture.

“The i-lab has provided an incubation space where our team has worked to develop and refine our ideas and product. Weekly access to mentors, fellow entrepreneurs, and co-working spaces facilitated the growth of our company,” he said.

Drs. Jelicich and Kim in the clinicWhen he finishes his postdoctoral program, he’ll go on to pursue his passion.

“After graduation, I will continue my involvement with Overjet as the company’s Director of Research. The position will allow me to continue helping to test and refine the artificial intelligence that we are building, and collaborate with scholars at world-class universities,” he said.

Jelicich will be missed by the students he’s mentored at HSDM, and the faculty and staff who have watched his career grow. He’s admired by all as a collegial and approachable teacher, and a caring clinician.

“Completing my dental school and residency at HSDM has taught me invaluable lessons that I will take with me into my career and personal life,” he said. “I am very grateful for all of the hard work of the HSDM faculty and staff, and for the many connections that I will take with me for a lifetime.”

Watch the President’s Innovation Challenge virtual award’s ceremony on May 21, at 5:00 p.m.