If increasing practitioners’ diagnostic accuracy, medical artificial intelligence (AI) may lead to better treatment decisions at lower costs, while uncertainty remains around the resulting cost-effectiveness. In the present study, we assessed how enlarging the data set used for training an AI for caries detection on bitewings affects cost-effectiveness and also determined the value of information by reducing the uncertainty around other input parameters (namely, the costs of AI and the population’s caries risk profile). We employed a convolutional neural network and trained it on 10%, 25%, 50%, or 100% of a labeled data set containing 29,011 teeth without and 19,760 teeth with caries lesions stemming from bitewing radiographs. We employed an established health economic modeling and analytical framework to quantify cost-effectiveness and value of information. We adopted a mixed public-private payer perspective in German health care; the health outcome was tooth retention years. A Markov model, allowing to follow posterior teeth over the lifetime of an initially 12-y-old individual, and Monte Carlo microsimulations were employed. With an increasing amount of data used to train the AI sensitivity and specificity increased nonlinearly, increasing the data set from 10% to 25% had the largest impact on accuracy and, consequently, cost-effectiveness. In the base-case scenario, AI was more effective (tooth retention for a mean [2.5%-97.5%] 62.8 [59.2-65.5] y) and less costly (378 [284-499] euros) than dentists without AI (60.4 [55.8-64.4] y; 419 [270-593] euros), with considerable uncertainty. The economic value of reducing the uncertainty around AI’s accuracy or costs was limited, while information on the population’s risk profile was more relevant. When developing dental AI, informed choices about the data set size may be recommended, and research toward individualized application of AI for caries detection seems warranted to optimize cost-effectiveness.
AI; caries detection/diagnosis/prevention; computer simulation; dental informatics; economic evaluation; radiology.