What Is Teledentistry?
When we think social distancing, we certainly do not think about visiting the dentist, and most have not heard of “teledentistry”. Very little clinical work can be done without not only being close to the patient but being inches away from their mouth. As such, many people who may have an urgent or emergent condition are foregoing even calling their dentist for fear that nothing can be done.
Teledentistry bridges the gap created by social distance while allowing patients to receive dental advice or treatment from a licensed dentist. Many emergencies are able to be managed via teledentistry until states re-open, and in the event that a visit is required during these trying times, allows your dentist to be more prepared for your arrival – shortening your visit time and eliminating unwarranted visits to the emergency room or urgent care.
What Is the Definition of Teledentistry?
Teledentistry is the use of telehealth systems to provide dental care. This is accomplished using technologies such as: live video, recorded video or images, shared information portals, or even mobile devices. Visits can be synchronous (real-time communication between the patient and provider) or asynchronous (recorded video/images/audio from the patient are forwarded to the provider and a follow-up response is provided at a later time).
We all use this innovation in other industries ranging from office meetings to communicating with our physicians, and dentists use this technology to be even more accessible to our patients not only during regular office hours but whenever we are needed.
How Do Teledentistry Visits Work?
After finding your dentist and scheduling your appointment, you receive a confirmation text or email with the details for entering your consult room. You can also expect to receive any paperwork or forms electronically so that your dentist can review your medical history and details of your emergency prior to your appointment.
On the day and time of your appointment, you join your consult room, as many of us have been doing on Zoom, and your dentist arrives. Many technologies allow your visit to be recorded if further review is needed, take screenshots of the painful area, add another provider to your consultation (such as a specialist) also working remotely, or forward any photos or video taken to your primary dentist or referral with your permission.
Our health is more important now than ever and small dental issues can turn into larger problems if allowed to continue. With an estimated three million emergency room visits per year for dental pain, access to licensed dentists during a pandemic is critical as our hospitals continue to be at or near capacity. Teledentistry allows for the safe and timely management of your concern or emergency from the comfort of your own home, and you can have peace of mind knowing you are receiving the same standard and quality of care as you would in an office.
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