How Teledentistry Will Change Dental Care
There’s been a steady change in the nature of medical care over the past decade. This change has only accelerated with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors from every industry have been looking for ways to better serve their patients and to provide service to underserved areas. Dentistry has seen the addition of new treatments and better payment models. Most significantly, however, has been the embracing of new technologies that have ushered teledentistry into it a new era.
Teledentistry Will Change The Face of Dental Care
Teledentistry is a term that describes the use of remote technology to help improve access to dental care. With the growing prevalence of high-speed internet, personal devices, and video calling, teledental practices have been more practical than ever. This approach to care has helped protect patients from spreading the COVID infection while saving them both time and money. These tools allow for consultations from remote specialists, follow-ups that don’t require an office visit, and even orthodontic care by mail.
We would be remiss not to focus on how teledentistry took off during the pandemic. Through the efforts of a dedicated, diverse, and creative dental workforce, new programs were created to make teledentistry more available and effective. Private practices, health centers, community programs, and health systems all took steps to integrate teledentistry into their practices. Consider the following examples:
Oregon dentists instituted a rural teledentistry program that made it possible for dental hygienists to perform visual inspections of schoolchildren’s oral health. They were able to take pictures, x-rays, chart tooth decay, and then transmit this information to remote dentists. These professionals would process the data collected and create an effective treatment plan for the child.
California developed a Virtual Dental Home model to a similar effect. This program took steps to train dental assistants and hygienists to collect dental records and deliver preventative care at schools around the state. This allowed a system of preventative care to be more available than ever. All of the information handled was transmitted through a secure telehealth system to qualified dental offices to reach a diagnosis and create a treatment plan.
Another example can be found in Missouri, where public health dentists, dental hygienists, and private practices coordinated to extend available office hours and create satellite dental offices to provide coverage. Hygienists would use systems such as asynchronous teledentistry to collect the necessary diagnostic information for new patients.
The Future of Dentistry Is Teledentistry
What all of this means is that teledentistry is no longer a fall-back plan for dental practices. Instead, it has started to become a mainstream method of delivering dental care. There are countless people who will be able to benefit from this trend. Those with a busy lifestyle that doesn’t make room for a traditional office visit are among them. Also included are patients that live in remote areas of the country that may be underserved, those who have difficulty moving, and those without the necessary transportation. When your dental care is just a phone call away, there’s no reason not to get the treatment you need.