ChatGPT 4.0 passes dental licensing examinations

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ChatGPT 4.0 passes dental licensing examinations

A recent study found that certain chatbots can successfully pass dental examinations in both the US and the UK. (Image: NMStudio789/Shutterstock)

HONG KONG, China: The omnipresence of artificial intelligence (AI) in today’s society has brought with it numerous transformations in work dynamics. Further exploring its potential in healthcare settings, a recent study has examined the performance of generative AI in dental licensing examinations. It found that the newer version of ChatGPT could answer questions from dental licensing examinations proficiently, thus demonstrating a great potential to change the way dental professionals are trained in the future and even to improve the communication between dentists and patients.

“Generative AI, such as ChatGPT and other chatbots, has recently become a hot topic. Despite being marketed as an AI that can write text and create stories, messages and programming code, for example, users may also consult it about their own medical and dental conditions. This is similar to the 1990s when the internet became available to the public and people started obtaining information from search engines,” senior author Dr Walter Yu-Hang Lam, a clinical assistant professor in prosthodontics at the University of Hong Kong, told Dental Tribune International.

“When using chatbots, there is no longer a need to know the correct keyword that we usually have to input into search engines. Instead, we can simply type our questions directly and the chatbots will help us interpret the question. Furthermore, the chatbots will summarise the information available in their web database to provide concise answers, and users are not required to interpret a variety of information from the web,” he continued.

ChatGPT versus dentists

Dr Walter Yu-Hang Lam. (Image: Walter Yu-Hang Lam)

According to Dr Lam, the use of generative AI is expected to increase in the future. However, since the accuracy of data provided by chatbots remains unknown, he and his fellow researchers sought to fill this gap in the literature by investigating the reliability of the information provided by ChatGPT. To assess how proficient language learning models are in interpreting written input and providing accurate answers in dentistry, the researchers posed 1,461 multiple-choice questions from the US and the UK dental licensing examinations to two versions of ChatGPT—ChatGPT 3.5 and 4.0.

The earlier version correctly answered 68.3% of the questions from the US dental licensing examination and 43.3% from the UK counterpart, failing to meet the pass criteria for both. In contrast, ChatGPT 4.0 showed a marked improvement, correctly answering 80.7% of the US and 62.7% of the UK dental licensing examination questions, successfully passing both tests.

“It is truly remarkable that a general-purpose chatbot can excel in a specialised examination. With further advancements in AI algorithms and the expansion of its database, it is anticipated that the accuracy will continue to improve,” Dr Lam noted.

AI as an educational resource in dentistry

A direct comparison between the two versions found that ChatGPT 4.0 answered 327 more questions correctly and had 102 more incorrect answers than its predecessor. These results underscore the advancements in AI capabilities in the newest version, highlighting its potential as an educational tool and resource in the field of dentistry.

Dr Lam believes that, since chatbots can be utilised by both the general public and dental professionals to provide dental information, this could potentially shift the landscape of dental education and alter the skill set and competencies that dentists need to develop. It could also affect the dentist–patient relationship, since it would eventually lead to a reduction in time spent with patients.

However, he thinks that the integration of AI in various aspects of dental services could enhance the quality of care provided by dental professionals. “Dentists can delegate certain aspects of patient education and management to chatbots, allowing them to focus more on delivering personalised preventive treatments to individual patients,” he commented. To make use of these to support the provision of high-quality care, dental professionals will need to allocate a portion of their time and resources to adapting to the current technological advancements.

The study, titled “Performance of generative artificial intelligence in dental licensing examinations”, was published online on 19 January 2024 in the International Dental Journal, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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