Will your next dentist appointment be in the metaverse?

Earlier this year, it was predicted that the 2D internet space would be replaced by a 3D virtual space. The metaverse has been introduced repeatedly in fiction throughout history, and VR inventions paved the way for its conceptualisation. 

The first VR machine was invented in 1956 by an inventor named Morton Heilig. The Sensorama Machine simulated a motorcycle ride through the city of Brooklyn. While VR went on to make an impact on the gaming industry with VR arcade games and various gaming equipment, it wasn’t until Web2 did the potential of metaverse fully revealed itself.

The concept of a virtual metaverse

The metaverse is basically a virtual world where people could be presented through avatars and control those avatars through VR gear, though that doesn’t have to be the case for a virtual world to be considered part of the metaverse.

In fact, games such as Minecraft and Second Life are also components of the metaverse. What innovators are hoping to do is to combine the internet into a comprehensive, linear world that will offer users a rich experience that they would not otherwise have in real-life.

In the sci-fi book-turned-movie, Ready Player One, there is a strongly established metaverse which is fully immersive and offers free education to all so that everyone can access the kind of knowledge that their more privileged peers are traditionally more likely to be given.

Also Read: The work in the metaverse is just beginning, where do we stand now?

Aside from information-sharing, the metaverse can also improve the quality of life for any individual as the virtual currencies can be converted into real-world money, which can aid those who are physically disabled or unable to hold down a traditional job.

The potential of the metaverse is exceedingly beneficial, and its advantages have been discovered and implemented in the health industry.

Digital technology encompassing the health industry

Following the COVID-19 outbreaks, countries all over the world implemented their own social distancing protocols and borders were shut, along with schools, shops, and other non-essential services. Healthcare was strained to its maximum capacity, and it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea of digitising the healthcare system.

Consultations were soon being done online, and the first AR surgery was done on living patients by neurosurgeons from Johns Hopkins. The sophistication of modern technology will inadvertently hail medical services from all sectors to adopt its practices and take it a step further.

Dentistry has also pioneered the use of metaverse, led by the Dental Design Studio. The dental practice currently has 15 facilities in the United Kingdom and one that exists on the virtual plane of Sandbox. 

Patients may very well one day have dental telehealth conversations regarding their oral health and hygiene. With the right gear, x-rays or 3D imaging may be possible in real-time. Currently, the firm intends to develop interactive surgeries where users will be able to design their own teeth.

A representative from Dental Design Studio explains that they “have always been interested in technology and have tried to innovate in any area that will benefit our patients. As people are increasingly starting to use the metaverse as a form of social interaction, we got the idea to create a group of dental practices in the metaverse – giving patients the chance to experience the dentist differently. ”

The metaverse benefits everyone from the end-user to the service providers. Aside from patients, practising dentists will also be able to join conferences and talks without having to travel in real-time by participating in lectures in the metaverse. 

A startup called Immersive Touch has developed a virtual simulation to help medical students and practising dentists alike rehearse medical procedures before executing them on their living patients. The practice of using technology to practice will inadvertently reduce the risks and enhance patient satisfaction. 

Also Read: Why Singapore is ASEAN’s sandbox for innovation in healthtech

On the other hand, patients can also view procedures beforehand to prepare for their upcoming procedure to alleviate any dental anxiety they may have, stemming from the fear of the unknown. 

The future of dentistry in the metaverse

Marketing is important and will continue to be important in the virtual world. Having a digital presence in the metaverse can help dentistry practices create brand awareness and offer advertising opportunities, as long as risks are taken into account, such as data privacy.

But the purpose of the metaverse isn’t just to feed capitalism or enhance commercialisation. It’s to increase accessibility. With increased accessibility and decreased costs, the metaverse can provide access to medical care to anyone in the world.

Dental booths may be set up in offices or medical sectors with the sole purpose of giving patients extra accessibility to dental services. Just imagine strolling up to a booth and having your needs taken care of, whether it is a consultation or an extraction, immediately.

What may sound like a luxury to first-world individuals would sound like a heaven-sent to underprivileged people living in third-world countries.

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