Does Your Toothbrush Have an App Yet?

“We have 3,600 applicants for 113 spaces this year,” he said. Larger schools, like New York University, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, offer similar state-of-the-art training but at a much higher tuition price. Touro charges $57,000 a year, compared to $78,854 at New York University and more at Ivy League schools.

Until recently, dentistry has largely lagged the medical field when it came to using artificial intelligence and other technology to diagnose or treat medical conditions. For researchers, dentistry didn’t attract the big headlines, fame and potentially lucrative windfalls that came with big medical advances, said Jeff Becker, senior analyst of health care strategy at Forrester Research.

But that changed as social media took off.

“These days, people want brighter, whiter, straighter teeth,” said Eric Payne, founder and chief executive of TEKagogo, a digital start up that connects dentists with technicians for same-day repairs. And dentists are jumping in, plastering before-and-after photos of their work all over the internet to attract new patients.

Around the same time that social media took off, cardiologists were starting to preach the connection between oral health and heart disease. Conditions like gingivitis and gum disease can raise red flags.

“The heart is pumping that bacteria from the oral cavity throughout your body,” said Mr. Payne. “If you don’t take care of your teeth, all that nastiness in your mouth is going to pump through your body.”

Suddenly, dentistry became trendy, and young researchers who saw opportunity started bringing tech advances to the dental world. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the top prize in the Cozad Competition for student start-ups went to dental-related technologies in both 2018 and 2019 — a first in the contest’s 20-year history, said Laura A. Frerichs, director of the University of Illinois Research Park, a technology hub for start-up companies.