Dentistry
Cosmetic
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Updated on December 30, 2022
5 min read

Virtual Dental Consultations

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What is a ‘Virtual Dentist?’

Virtual dentistry is a field of telehealth that focuses on dentistry. A virtual dentist is a dental service provider who provides care to patients over text, phone, or video (rather than in person).1 

african american with toothache seeking medical stomatologist health advice 1

What Services Do Online Dentists Provide?

Teledentistry refers to the use of virtual communication technologies to enhance dental care and education delivery. An online dentist can evaluate, diagnose, treat, and educate patients virtually.

Teledentistry can use any of the following modes to deliver patient care and education:

  • Live video (synchronous) — Live, two-way call between a patient and provider using video conferencing technology.
  • Store and forward (asynchronous) — Transmission of information through an electronic communications system to a health practitioner, who evaluates the patient’s condition or provides a service.
  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM) — Health and medical data collection from a patient transmitted to their provider.
  • Mobile health (mHealth) — Healthcare information and education supported by mobile communication devices such as cell phones and tablet computers.2,3

What Services Do Online Dentists Not Provide?

Online dentists can help you with a variety of dental problems. However, there are some services that online dentists cannot provide.

Virtual dentists do not provide any of the following services:

  • A comprehensive assessment and dental health check
  • Digital scans and a 3D treatment plan
  • Professional dental cleanings
  • Restorative and surgical dentistry
  • Retainers and aftercare
  • Emergency procedures or surgeries

You’ll need to make an in-person appointment rather than an online appointment for any of these issues.

How Does an Online Dentist Appointment Work?

An online dentist appointment consists of the following steps:

1. Make an appointment

Most virtual dentists allow patients to make an appointment online. You may have the opportunity to select between a phone, video, or chat appointment. 

Making an appointment with an online dentist can be as quick as five minutes.

2. Enter the virtual waiting room

Be ready a few minutes early for your appointment. You’ll have time to troubleshoot any technical difficulties before your consultation.

You may also need to complete a questionnaire before meeting with the dentist. 

When you log in, you will be placed in a virtual ‘waiting room.’ Once the dentist is ready, they will admit you into the meeting room.

3. Meet virtually with a dentist

You may meet with the dentist via phone, video, or chat. Your dentist will examine you or look at photos you provide, make an initial diagnosis or recommendation, and answer your questions. 

Depending on your concern, your appointment may conclude with a prescription, at-home care instructions, a follow-up appointment, or an in-person referral. 

4. Attend a follow-up appointment 

You may need to attend a follow-up appointment with your virtual dentist. 

A follow-up appointment allows the dentist to reevaluate you, check on your progress, or answer further questions.

5. Referral to an in-person dentist

If necessary, your virtual dentist may refer you to a qualified dentist for an in-person visit.

Virtual Dental Appointments for Emergencies: How Does it Work?

Virtual dentists are available 24/7, 365 days a year, through virtual dentistry services. 

Virtual dentists can meet patients immediately, assess the severity of your emergency, and let you know if a visit to the emergency room is warranted. They can also recommend at-home care and give instructions on what to do until you undergo in-person treatment.

Pros and Cons of Virtual Dental Consultations

Teledentistry has its advantages and disadvantages. It can provide access to services for many people but isn’t appropriate for all dental issues.

Pros of Virtual Dentistry Cons of Virtual Dentistry
24/7/365 virtual access to licensed dentists Unclear reimbursement structures
Ability to get a second opinion from specialists or providers anywhere in the world Uneven access to network coverage and internet
Expands access to care for rural areas Concerns regarding the safety of data and information shared within these platforms
Reduces disease exposure Technological illiteracy among patients
Preserves supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) Not every dental issue can be treated online
Allows for orthodontic evaluations
Reduces patient demand on facilities
More affordable than in-office dentistry4
Reduces unnecessary emergency room visits 5,6

5 Best Virtual Dental Consultation Services 

1. Denteractive

Denteractive is an online service that gives patients access to high-quality, board-certified, independent dental care professionals 24/7. 

Using its proprietary dental health care platform, Denteractive services the following conditions:

  • Broken tooth/dental trauma
  • Toothache/swelling
  • Cosmetics/dental implants
  • Braces/orthodontics
  • Pediatric dental care

2. LiveDentist

LiveDentist is a teledentistry platform that matches patients with board-certified dentists in minutes. It offers the following features: 

  • Immediate access to board-certified dentists and dental specialists
  • Appointments via computer, tablet, or smartphone with a secure, HIPAA-compliant system
  • High-quality, affordable dental care regardless of insurance
  • Electronic prescriptions and referrals to in-person providers, if necessary

3. DentalChat

DentalChat was founded over a decade ago by a general dentist passionate about dental care and technology. The platform uses AI technology to help people get dental questions answered in real time.  

DentalChat services any of the following conditions:

  • Dental implants
  • Tooth pain
  • Crowns and bridges
  • Gum problems
  • Teeth whitening
  • Cosmetic dentistry

4. The TeleDentists

TeleDentists is a virtual care solution for teledentistry that provides essential dental services 24/7/365. It uses a cloud-based SaaS service to match patients to hospitals and urgent care facilities to avoid an expensive ER visit.

In addition to emergency dentistry, the conditions TeleDentists services include the following:

  • Toothaches or sensitivity
  • Gum pain, recession, or bleeding
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric dental health
  • Cosmetic procedures
  • TMJ/TMD

5. Dentulu

Dentulu is a SaaS-based teledentistry platform founded in 2018. It’s available in several languages, on various platforms, and is expanding internationally.

Dentulu's core products deliver a consolidation of HIPAA-compliant Teledentistry solutions at an affordable price. Its most notable feature is the MouthCAM, a revolutionary artificial intelligence software packed in a handheld, lightweight device.

This handheld camera lets the patient wirelessly capture HD-quality images inside their mouth while providing a live video feed to their dentist. The MouthCAM allows the virtual dental caregiver to be as effective as an in-office provider.

How Much Do Teledentistry Services Cost? What About Insurance?

Teledentistry generally costs less than traditional in-person dentist visits, with an average telehealth visit costing $79.7

Most insurance providers and Medicare cover at least some form of teledentistry service.

Consult your dental insurance provider to determine which teledentistry services your insurance plan covers. 

Summary

A virtual dentist can evaluate, diagnose, treat, and educate patients using online communication technology. However, there are some limitations on what services online dentists can provide.

Teledentistry is a quick and convenient way to see a dentist soon. It can help eliminate unnecessary emergency room visits. It may be more affordable than in-person dentistry, and can be covered by insurance.

Last updated on December 30, 2022
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 30, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. "Applications of teledentistry: A literature review and update." Journal of International Society of Preventative and Community Dentistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2011.
  2. "Current Policies." American Dental Association, 2022.
  3. Seeley, D. ”Gov. Abbott Signs Teledentistry Bill, Ending Ban and Allowing Virtual Dentistry in Texas." Dallas Innovates, 2021.
  4. Estai, M., et al. "Cost savings from a teledentistry model for school dental screening: an Australian health system perspective." Australian Health Review, National Library of Medicine, 2018. 
  5. Blythe, A. "Your dentist can see you remotely." North Carolina Health News, 2021.
  6. "Facts About Teledentistry" American Teledentistry Organization, 2022.
  7. "Private Insurance Coverage for Telehealth" Telehealth.hhs.gov, Health Resources and Services Administration, 2021.
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