Virtual Dental Consultations

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 

What Services Do Online Dentists Provide?

Teledentistry is not a specific service but a collection of means to enhance dental care and education delivery. Teledentistry refers to various technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services.

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

  • Live video: Live, two-way video call between a patient and provider using video conferencing technology.
  • Store and forward: 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): Health care 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.

Online 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

You’ll need to make an in-person appointment rather than an online appointment in cases of:

  • Teeth cleanings and dental exams
  • Physical dental procedures
  • Chronic conditions affecting the quality of life
  • Emergency procedures/surgeries 

How Does an Online Dentist Appointment Work?

An online dentist appointment consists of the following steps:

1. Make an appointment

To see an online dentist, you first need to make an appointment for a virtual consultation. 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. Wait in the virtual waiting room

On the day and time of your appointment, make sure you are ready a few minutes early. There may be a questionnaire for you to fill out and have completed before your meeting with the dentist. 

Before your appointment, 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

Depending on the teledentistry service you select, you can meet with the dentist virtually through phone, video, or chat. Your dentist can examine you during your meeting, 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 

If deemed necessary by your health provider, you may attend a follow-up appointment with your virtual dentist. 

A follow-up appointment provides an opportunity to further engage with the patient to: 

  • Perform more assessments
  • Talk to family members
  • Ensure they understand their follow-up instructions about medications
  • Encourage them to schedule any referral appointments

5. Referral to in-person dentist

If necessary, your virtual dentist may refer you to other great dentists with the same expertise who are available 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 you instructions on what to do until you undergo in-person treatment.

Pros and Cons of Virtual Dental Consultations

The advantages of virtual dental consultations include:

  • 24/7/365 virtual access to licensed dentists
  • Second opinions on dental procedures
  • Expanding access to care for individuals in rural areas
  • Reduced disease exposure for staff and patients
  • Preservation of scarce supplies of personal protective equipment
  • Orthodontic evaluations
  • Reduces patient demand on facilities
  • More affordable than in-office dentistry4
  • Reduces emergency room visits 5,6

The disadvantages of virtual dentistry include:

  • The structures for reimbursement are still not clear 
  • Some patients face challenges in network coverage and internet accessibility
  • There are questions regarding the safety of data and information shared within these platforms
  • Technological illiteracy among patients

5 Best Virtual Dental Consultation Services 

1. Denteractive

Denteractive is an online service that gives dental care seekers 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. With LiveDentist, you can use your computer, tablet, or smartphone to talk with a dentist, find treatment, ask questions, get prescriptions, or even get a referral for a local specialist.

LiveDentist 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. DentalChat uses AI technology to help people get dental questions answered in real-time.  

Features:

  • Chat with local dentists in real-time
  • Use the dashboard to stay in touch
  • Services available 24/7

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. This virtual service was founded by dentists and 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 TeleDentists services any of the following conditions:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Pediatric dental health
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Gum pain
  • Bad breath
  • Gum recession
  • Toothaches
  • TMJ/TMD
  • Teeth whitening
  • Total smile care
  • General product questions and recommendations
  • Orthodontics
  • Overbite/underbite
  • Missing/broken teeth
  • Crowding
  • Abnormal lesions
  • Implants

5. Dentulu

Dentulu is a SaaS-based teledentistry platform founded in 2018. Dentulu is available in several languages, on various platforms, and expanding internationally. Dentulu's core products deliver a consolidation of HIPAA compliant Teledentistry solutions at an affordable price. 

Features:

Dentulu’s most notable feature is the MouthCAM, a revolutionary artificial intelligence software packed in a handheld, lightweight device. This handheld camera allows the patient to wirelessly capture HD quality images inside their mouth while also providing a live video feed to their dentist. The MouthCAM allows the virtual dental caregiver to be as effective as an in-office provider.

Dentulu services the following conditions:

  • Tooth pain
  • Gum pain
  • Enamel erosion
  • And more

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 telehealth service. Call your dental insurance provider to determine which teledentistry services your insurance plan covers and see if they cover reimbursement for any telehealth services. When teledentistry is not a covered service, your dental office may offer complimentary sessions or give you a reduced rate.

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