If, for some reason, you find it difficult or impossible to arrange a visit to the dentist for the time being, you can always rely on an online dentist to provide remote solutions to your oral health needs. Teledentistry allows dentists to provide quality dental services to patients remotely. Dentists use teledentistry as an option when patients are unable to attend physical dental appointments.
Many dental offices nowadays provide telendentistry services as a way to adjust to the global pandemic. Virtual sessions are done to assess patient’s dental problems and for dentists to come up with an appropriate treatment plan.
Teledentistry: The Future of Dentistry?
Our world is constantly changing because of technological advancements, and we have no choice but to adapt or get left behind. What does this mean for the future of dentistry and what is teledentistry?
Teledentistry involves the establishment of a virtual contact in order to diagnose and treat patients. An online dentist meets with patients through various options such as text messaging, video conferencing, online portals, and even phone calls. These online appointments can be done anytime and anywhere. Imagine scheduling an appointment with your dentist at home wearing baggy shirts and pants? Sounds so comfy, no?
Teledentistry can provide urgent care to those who might end up going to the emergency department for minor dental concerns. This, in turn, relieves the emergency staff of unnecessary work. With so many restrictions and travel complications post pandemic, patients are still guaranteed quality dental care whenever they need it thanks to teledentistry!
The future remains uncertain, but as long as there is access to internet, patients will be able to get in touch with an online dentist and receive helpful dental solutions for years to come.
History of Teledentistry
Contrary to popular belief, teledentistry isn’t a completely new practice. It was first introduced in 1994 as a military project, which eventually grew to include dental care to underrepresented people in in rural communities. This treatment option was presented as a solution by dentists so they can virtually provide care for patients with serious dental concerns.
Teledentistry has been around for almost two decades, however it did not receive worldwide attention until 2013, when over 50% of American doctors and hospitals started including telehealth services in their program. Telehealth services proved to be very effective in treating patents, which is why it has become a fixture in many healthcare programs around the world.
Online dentists or teledentists provide patients with both in-person and online sessions to accommodate their needs.
Teledentistry: How Does it Work?
Virtual dental appointments significantly help reduce emergency room appointments and encourage more oral health education, pre-op, and post-op consultations. This way dentists can prescribe medications and antibiotics necessary for surgery or emergency situations until the patient can schedule an in-person appointment with their own dentist. Teledentistry, in a nutshell, guarantees that patients receive dental care as soon as possible.
Since teledentistry is done mostly online, there are certain limitations to what an online dentist can do. Obviously, a dentist can’t clean your teeth over a video conference, but they can use a virtual consultation to:
- Recommend or prescribe antibiotics or pain medicines so that a patient can receive immediate pain relief beyond office hours.
- Form an assessment on the condition of a dental device for orthodontics through video conference calls, or still photos sent from the patient’s camera.
- Manage the work of a hygienist working off-site, such as a school, nursing home, or even in prison.
- Allow patients living in remote or far-flung communities to consult with dentists without having to go in-site.
- Suggest treatment plans and payment options after completing the first in-office examination or consultation.
- Manage virtual intake appointments for new patients
- Provide patients with home care advice and after-surgery care.
- Suggest dental treatment like oral rinses, using a specific type of toothbrush
- Check up on patient experience and compliance with the treatments they received.
The global Covid-19 pandemic has made the healthcare sector adapt to technology, which is why patients now consider telehealth, and teledentistry, valid healthcare solutions.
Both dentists and patients can benefit from teledentistry. Dentists and their dental practices can expand their reach to more patients, especially those with irregular schedules or have limitations with travelling. Furthermore, providing dental services beyond the office environment is a great way to protect workers against the risk of Covid-19 since there are fewer people in the office.
Patients also benefit from teledentistry. They can save money on gas since they don’t have to travel to and from the dentists’ office. They also don’t have to take time off work just to keep their dental appointment. This greatly benefits individuals working in service industries with limited paid time off (PTO), or for those who need to travel long distances to receive specialized dental care.
Another advantage to teledentistry is that they still entertain patients during weekends and on evenings. This gives people a great option for emergency room care. As a result, people save time, money, and healthcare workers are able to provide better care considering that most ERs do not have dental staff on standby.
Lastly, patients that suffer from anxiety benefit greatly from teledentistry because they are able to afford dental care without having to speak face-to-face with a dentist. Some people get too anxious to talk to people face-to-face, which often leads to them not being able to fully express their needs. With teledentistry, they have the option to explain their concerns through text messaging.
With remote dental consultations, dentists and their staff can encourage anxious patients into a dental plan and prepare them for in-person dental treatments when necessary.
Will Online Dentists and Teledentistry Still be Popular in The Future?
Teledentistry gained popularity during the pandemic, but will it remain popular now that everything is going back to normal?
Although telendentistry’s use has expanded greatly during the pandemic, it should continue to serve as a means to improve access to care even after the pandemic is long gone.