The world of medical care constantly changes because of new technology. What does this mean for dentistry?
Teledentistry is a new form of professional dental service that can offer care to patients anywhere and anytime. Through virtual dental appointments, dentists can now meet with patients to discuss their needs through video conferencing, online portals, or even text messages.
While teledentistry appointments became popular during COVID-19, it’s now clear that teledentistry is here to stay. It’s convenient, accessible, and safe, allowing you to access necessary medical care from the comfort of your own home.
Here’s everything you need to know about how teledentistry works and what to expect from the process.
While 85% of Americans believe that oral health is an important part of their overall physical health, 42% also say that they don’t see a dentist as often as they would like.
What creates this gap in dental care? The factors are complex, but it depends on what patients see as barriers to proper treatment. The cost of dental treatment, difficulty finding a good dentist, and fear of dental treatments are all concerns. Many patients in rural areas or without stable transportation may not be able to make it to the office on short notice.
Teledentistry helps ease this burden and cuts down on the barriers to dental care. It delivers necessary care directly into a patient’s home, offering a more accessible and affordable option for an emergency consultation.
Teledentistry: How it Works and What to Expect
Actual dental procedures and exams might not be possible in a virtual setting, but teledentistry can offer in-depth consultations between dentists and patients.
Dentists can consult about procedures, provide follow-up after surgeries, and offer specialist assessments all through an online video chat. Although they may not be able to perform diagnostic tests or exams, they can review imaging and other data during the appointment.
Teledentistry can include:
- Live chats with a dentist using videoconferencing technology
- Transmission of x-rays, dental records, or other information from a care provider for evaluation
- Assistance through health portals accessed via computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.
A virtual dental appointment is primarily diagnostic, but a dentist can also:
- Prescribe emergency pain medication or antibiotics
- Evaluate a dental emergency to see if an immediate in-person appointment is needed
- Present treatment plans or financing options
- Offer education on home care after a procedure or surgery
- Run a virtual intake for new patients
- Work with patients in remote areas who need specialist care
Once you’ve booked a virtual appointment, the next steps are simple. Your dentist will provide you with instructions on how to access the video conference. They may ask you to fill out some paperwork, especially if you’re a new patient. Once on the call, you can explain the issue to your dentist — in some cases, you can even show them over video. Using your symptoms and existing dental records, your dentist will let you know what comes next.
The New Era of Teledentistry
It’s hard to say exactly what the future of dentistry looks like, but teledentistry has proven a practical dental solution for many years to come.
While virtual dentistry can help provide consultation or care in a dental emergency, it can’t take the place of an in-office visit. A virtual visit is just the first step toward getting the care that you need.
Do you want to make virtual appointments with a dentist that meets your needs? Our database can help you find the perfect dentist near you.