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How Teledentistry Can Improve Access To Orthodontic Care

Every year rural areas continue to shrink, and there’s a driving need for high-paying jobs to maintain a standard of living. Orthodontists leaving college find themselves in significant debt, making practicing in rural areas less appealing. Regardless, there’s a significant call for orthodontic treatment wherever you go. 

Whether you’re addressing concerns with a cleft palate or are correcting dental misalignment, you need a dental professional who can deliver this kind of care. However, the location may limit access to this necessary form of care in areas with lower populations and reduced income levels. Teledentistry is one form of care that’s working to fill that gap, making it possible to receive the necessary care wherever patients may be.

How Teledentistry Benefits Dental Patients

Teledentistry can effectively address the growing gap between low-income rural areas and orthodontic care. This is accomplished by reshaping the relationship between clinics and their patient family using telecommunication. 

It provides notable benefits for the patient, including reduced travel times, reduced cost of care, and flexibility in communicating with their provider. Telehealth isn’t a new concept; it’s been around as long as the telephone. The rise of COVID-19 has propelled teledentistry out of obscurity and into common conversation. Access to dental care and delivery methods have been improving, as have the overall costs for oral healthcare in underserved communities.

At first glance, it’s understandable if teledentistry seems to have limited utility. Modern dental technology has greatly enhanced the effectiveness of this form of care. However, there are multiple areas in which teledentistry is able to provide care options for patients and dentists alike:

  • Diagnostic Assistance: Dentists are able to use photographs and video calling to perform follow-ups and basic triage over digital devices. In many areas, it’s possible to go to a local third-party facility for imaging, the results of which will be transmitted to your dentist. 
  • Orthodontic Treatment: Many new forms of orthodontic care can be accomplished remotely, especially clear aligners. Dentists may send a mail-in dental impression kit to their patients. After following the included directions, they can mail the kit back to their dentist. The dentist will then evaluate the kit and send it off to a lab to have the aligners made. All without a visit to the dental office.
  • Immediate Temporary Care: Those experiencing a dental emergency can receive an immediate diagnosis and care over the phone or via video chat. First, dentists can provide response medication, and the patient can be instructed in at-home care techniques until you can visit the dentist. In many cases, dentists can do the full spectrum of necessary care remotely.

Consult With Your Dental Provider For More Information

Every year more clinics are adopting additional teledental treatment options for their patients. You can reach out to your provider to get information about their services. While you’re at it, schedule your next bi-annual visit so you can take steps to get the proper care. You may discover that long drives and inconvenient appointment dates and times are no longer a part of your dental care routine.

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