Case study - Pearlii

Headshot of Dr Kyle Turner

Dr Kyle Turner, an epidemiologist and Wiradjuri man who grew up in central New South Wales – where access to dental services is still very limited – learned first-hand that regular check-ups and good oral hygiene are key to helping prevent many teeth and gum conditions.

Dr Turner’s personal experience inspired him to develop a solution. In May 2021, Kyle launched the Pearlii beta App, which provides free dental check-ups with a click of a button on your phone. As part of this free service, users simply upload photos of their teeth and gums, and they are then notified if there are any issues detected and referred to a local dentist if treatment is required.

This is all possible thanks to a Technology Adoption and Innovation Program (TAIP) grant from the Victorian Government and matched funding from Pearlii. The funding has allowed Dr Turner to hire a data scientist who is key to improving the Pearlii algorithm, which is programmed to ask certain questions, learn by itself and better detect if there’s any tooth decay, gum redness, staining, tartar and white spots in scanned dental photos.

Pearlii uses tens of thousands of images in their database that have been carefully labelled by dentists to help detect oral diseases accurately. It’s a time-consuming task, with up to 30 different label categories for each tooth and images that are independently labelled by two dentists.

Once the images are labelled, the next step involves “teaching” the Pearlii algorithm to distinguish which labelled dental images are healthy and unhealthy, so it can accurately detect signs of bad oral hygiene from photos taken with your smartphone.

Thanks to this AI innovation, people can now have a free, fast dental check-up anywhere, and track their oral health at home.

While Dr Turner is progressing the AI work, he is also supporting local disadvantaged communities.

Pearlii donates 50 per cent of profits from sales of its premium, eco-friendly oral care products to the Pearlii Foundation. These donations are helping to build Pearlii dental trucks, which will provide free dental care to homeless people, First Nation communities and people living in rural and remote parts of Australia.

“Personally, I want to get out to First Nation communities that don't have access to regular dental care.” Dr Turner says.

“But we'll also be looking at other areas, including people sleeping rough.”

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Supporting Victorian innovators

The Victorian Government is committed to keeping Victoria at the forefront of innovation. In November 2021, we released our Innovation Statement, mapping out the Victorian Government’s agenda to harness our homegrown talent, commercialise cutting edge research and technology, and create new jobs now and for generations to come.

The Victorian Government has also supported local innovators through the $6.1 million Technology Adoption and Innovation Program. Grants through this program have helped Victorian small to medium businesses adopt novel technology or digital approaches to improve business processes and productivity. They also helped Victorian tech companies develop innovative technology products and services.

For more information about how the Victorian Government is supporting local innovators and taking Victorian innovation to the world, visit the Innovation newsroom.

Page last updated: 22 July 2022