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Teledentistry uses virtual communication technology to provide patients with dental care. It allows dentists to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients without going into the office.
During teledentistry appointments, a patient often shares photos for the dentist to examine. The dentist then provides virtual care and education on the dental issue(s). They can also refer patients to in-person dentists as needed.
Teledentistry has huge potential to increase the reach and quality of dental care.
Teledentistry is typically carried out using one of the following methods:
Synchronous, meaning 'at the same time,' refers to live video or phone calls between a patient and dental provider using HIPAA-compliant technology.
This real-time interaction mimics a regular visit that takes place in a dental office. Patients can undergo examinations and receive prescriptions or follow-up appointments at home.
Asynchronous communication refers to sending and storing health information via HIPAA-compliant communication systems.
A teledentist can use documents like x-rays, photographs, and digital impressions to evaluate a patient’s condition without communicating in real-time.
Remote patient monitoring provides care from a different location. It allows providers to collect and interpret medical data while a patient is in their home or another healthcare facility, such as a hospital.
RPM enables teledentists to monitor patients' progress and alter their treatment plan remotely. They may communicate in real-time via video conferencing when necessary.
Mobile health refers to any health care or public health practice supported by mobile phones or tablets.
Teledentistry can use mobile devices to provide dental education to a broad patient base.
Teledentistry is a controversial topic among dentists, public health officials, and state regulatory agencies. It has its limitations.
However, there are many pros of teledentistry. It remains an ever-evolving area of dentistry.
Video consultations can help people undergoing a dental emergency. A quick video call with a dentist can provide a patient with vital information. Many patients are unsure if their condition is considered an emergency. In many cases, urgent care is not necessary.
Teledentistry could save these patients a costly trip to the emergency room with a video conference and follow-up dental appointment.
When a patient does experience a true dental emergency, teledentistry can get them medication or refer them to an urgent care facility immediately.
Teledentistry can benefit many people, both providers and patients. It’s especially useful for areas that don’t have regular access to an in-person dentist.
Here are some ways teledentistry has already been used and ways it may become more popular in the future:
Teledentistry involves the use of virtual communication technology to provide dental care. It’s usually delivered using live video tools, asynchronous document sharing, and remote patient monitoring.
The practice of teledentistry has many limitations and benefits. It’s not appropriate for every dental issue. However, it can vastly increase the access of rural or underserved populations to dental care.
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