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Teledentistry is a form of telehealth, which distributes health services via online technologies and electronic information.
In short, teledentistry is the virtual communication between dentists and patients. Similar to regular dental appointments, patients set up teledentistry appointments online.
Before the visit, patients are asked to upload pictures of their mouths. They may also need to send in x-rays. Then they are connected to an online dentist who can provide insight on the dental issue(s) at hand. Appointments are completed through a secure HIPAA compliant text/instant messaging or on a live video call.
Online dentists can also refer patients to dental clinics (if needed). This is typically the case if you have an emergency dental condition like an abscess or a broken tooth. Your online dentist may prescribe antibiotics to reduce any pain before your in-person visit.
Many dental telemedicine services are available 24/7. Some accept insurance, while others do not. However, most of these platforms are affordable or completely free.
Teledentistry services are growing in popularity, especially among younger generations. They were created to help patients find affordable, quick dental care without visiting a dental office. It’s also a great way to ask for second opinions before undergoing invasive procedures.
Two types of services are offered through dental telemedicine:
Teledentistry platforms offer the following services:
Virtual dental exams are one of the most common teledentistry services offered. In most cases, the examinations will take place on a video call. An online dentist will examine your mouth using virtual technology to check for signs of cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, and other conditions.
You may also be asked to send in photos for further evaluation or recommended to make a follow-up appointment for an in-office session.
Keep in mind: you cannot have your teeth cleaned during a telehealth appointment. You’ll still need to visit a dental hygienist every six months for this essential treatment. Your online dentist can help you find a clinic in your area.
Virtual pre-surgery screenings are convenient for both dentists and patients. They save time by allowing dentists to make adjustments without the need for an initial visit. This service is especially useful if you live in a rural or remote area.
Often, patients cannot make a dental appointment right away if they break a tooth or develop a severe toothache.
Fortunately, many teledentistry services are available 24/7, so you can speak to someone within minutes. After connecting with a dentist, they will assess your condition and prescribe antibiotics to ease any pain (if necessary). They can also help you find an emergency dentist in your area.
In some cases, patients might not require an emergency appointment. They can use a teledentistry service to help determine if the condition is severe or not. This can save time and stress by eliminating the need for an urgent visit.
If you experience any of the following dental issues, you may need emergency treatment:
If you have a minor dental issue such as a toothache, you can connect with an online dentist at any time. They can provide you with tips to reduce discomfort, prescribe medications (if needed), and help you find a dentist in your area.
Other non-emergency dental problems include small tooth chips, sensitive teeth, and loose restorations (e.g., fillings, crowns, and bridges).
Getting second opinions on potential dental work is another effective and useful teledentistry service. In the past, patients would have to set up an appointment with a different dentist to receive a second opinion. These appointments are often inconvenient and pricey.
However, using a teledentistry service to get a second opinion is convenient and affordable. You can easily connect with a dentist (from anywhere in the world), making it easy to find an expert who specializes in your specific dental procedure.
Not only does this process save time, but it also provides you with feedback from a broader range of dentists. You can also ask them about any other oral health concerns you may have, all without leaving your house.
During teledentistry appointments, an online dentist can help you find a dental clinic in your area. They act as the middle-man to ensure you find a dentist who accepts your insurance and specializes in your dental needs.
Remote orthodontics is a newer service offered via teledentistry. These services are also referred to as at-home aligners or remote aligners.
At-home aligner treatment is a convenient, affordable, and discreet way to straighten your teeth at home. Like Invisalign, remote orthodontics consists of a series of clear aligner trays that straighten your teeth over time.
However, at-home aligner treatment is completed 100% remotely, while Invisalign treatment consists of in-office checkups and adjustments.
Some teledentistry platforms offer concierge services. Instead of setting up an online appointment, a dental professional will be sent to your home. This dental service is convenient for those with disabilities or injuries.
Services that are not offered through teledentistry include procedures like:
Teledentistry is a growing industry that has many benefits. However, there are also some downsides to these services:
Here is NewMouth’s full review of the top teledentistry services available:
LiveDentist allows you to speak to a dentist anytime, anywhere. They can provide insight, guidance, and treatment recommendations on your specific condition. The app is also available on iOS and Android, making it accessible to almost anyone with a smartphone.
It is free to sign up but costs a flat fee of $59 for a video call. Most dental insurances are accepted. The consultations are quick and last about 15 minutes. The virtual dentist can also prescribe you medications and help you find an in-person dentist for further treatment (if necessary).
Denteractive provides 24/7 access to a nationwide group of board-certified dental professionals, allowing for live online consultation, triage, and referral to over 10,000 dental offices in all 50 U.S. states.
The platform makes it easy to find the best dentist for your needs, make a dental appointment online, and talk with specialists from the comfort of home.
To make an appointment, choose between text messaging or video chat and start your online dental visit within a few minutes.
The easy-to-use interface also allows you to upload pictures, videos, and x-rays. From there, the dentist can examine your records and provide advice and recommendations on your dental condition(s).
You can also request second opinions, ask for advice for urgent dental needs, and seek professional recommendations on implants, orthodontics, cosmetics, and pediatrics.
Toothpic allows you to connect with an online dentist in three easy steps. First, you’ll create an account for free and answer a few questions about your oral health history. You can also share any concerns you may have.
Then you’ll be asked to take guided pictures for your virtual dentist to examine. You can share up to six images of your teeth/mouth. Toothpic’s technology guides you through the process to ensure you take the best pictures possible.
After you submit the information and pictures, a dentist will review them and provide you with an in-depth report within 24 hours.
Toothpic services range from $10 to $35, depending on the level of care needed. Your dentist can also refer you to a dental clinic in your area.
Smile Virtual is a teledentistry service that connects patients with experienced cosmetic dentists. The process begins with a video consultation. You’ll also upload pictures of your mouth/teeth and a brief description of what you want to change.
The online dentist will review your case and send a custom video back outlining potential treatment options. If you choose to follow through with treatment, you can schedule an appointment with the cosmetic dentist and begin the process.
This platform is an asynchronous service that does not require a patient to be present for a live appointment. Instead, they send in photos and x-rays to a dentist who examines the records on their own time.
The TeleDentists is a teledentistry platform that offers virtual services in all 50 U.S. states. New members will be asked to create an account and complete a short survey.
After you make an account, you’ll sit in a virtual waiting room while you are being connected to a dentist. This process is quick and takes up to 10 minutes. Once connected, you’ll talk to the dentist via video chat, where they can assess your needs and recommend a treatment plan. The consultations cost between $59 and $199.
Dentulu connects patients to virtual dentists in less than five minutes. You can download the app for iOS/Android or make an appointment on their website.
After you select the dentist of your choice, a video consultation will begin. They will provide recommendations, advice, and prescribe medications, if necessary. Dentulu also has emergency dentists available 24/7.
The standout feature of Dentulu is the concierge service. You can use this service to schedule an exam in your home or office. A dentist will come to your location rather than setting up an in-person or virtual appointment.
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