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The Effects of Teledentistry

September 23, 2021

Let’s get a brief understanding of what exactly teledentistry is. In its most basic form, teledentistry uses telehealthcare systems and methods to connect providers and patients despite both parties being in different locations. This practice comes in various forms, such as: 

  • Live Video/Video Calling: Real-time meeting between dental provider and patient.  
  • Record and Send: Patients can record videos, take photos, and other means to explain their situation to a healthcare provider. 
  • Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): This is when relative health/medical data is collected from a patient in a different location from the car provider 
  • Mobile Health (mHealth): Mobile devices have the ability to help users detect certain issues that may be causing them harm.  

Why Teledentistry? 

The biggest advancement made by the teledentistry industry is the ability to connect patients to dental care providers remotely. The immediate connection granted by the technology can help care providers quickly and accurately assess the issue a patient is having, suggest medicine that could help patients, save money, save time, and potentially omit a stressful trip to a medical/dental hospital. With all that in mind, for patients, this is a wonderful advancement due to the reduced need for travel and the significant decrease in wait times. In addition to all of the perks that come with teledentistry, some emergency dentists are available at any hour! This is very beneficial to any patient needing to receive immediate care.  

As it relates to the dental provider, due to the lack of in-person patients there will be reduced chair times. Consultations can be done virtually with teledentistry and allow for providers to care for more patients per day. This also applies to patients needing to have follow-ups after surgeries or dental procedures. As mentioned above, dental practitioners can reach their patients even if they are working in a different or remote location.  

Underlying Drawbacks 

While there are multiple perks that come with teledentistry, there are a few drawbacks. The structures that surround reimbursement of services are not completely smoothed out during these sessions. This can cause quite a headache for both health providers and patients receiving said care. Depending on the patient, some may be facing challenges with in-network coverages and internet accessibility which can make all appointments and associations with teledentistry services an endeavor. For patients, there is a bit of uneasiness when it comes to the safety of their data and information that is being shared on the platforms. There may also be some technological illiteracy among some patients who are navigating teledentistry apps.  

Why Choose a Local Dentist Office? 

While we have seen the success of teledentistry, there are many drawbacks, as we mentioned earlier. The lack of creating a relationship in person can cause some distrust between patient and provider. Lack of relationships can mean that if the provider and patient are in different locations and the patient needs actual dental work done, such as surgery, they will need to consult with a completely new doctor. When working with a local dentist, the patient can get to know who will be doing all dental work, giving the patient great peace of mind. Regional dentist offices also help provide a feeling of safety. They warmly welcome to help their patients feel more at ease when they come in for their annual cleanings or additional appointments. Furthermore, some dental health issues simply cannot be treated as well over a phone or video call. Sometimes your dentist truly needs to get up close and personal with your mouth to find the root cause of what is going on with your teeth. For the most accurate diagnosis, it is best to choose a local dentist you trust. You know exactly who you’re dealing with because they are a respected member of your community.  

The Future of Dental Health 

Dental health is constantly advancing whether it is digitally or in-person, and teledentisty is the perfect example of this. As the years continue to pass and we see a greater reliance on telehealth services, we will hopefully see any bumps in this newly developed realm of digital care smoothed out. There are many who believe that teledentistry can be a useful supplement to — though not a replacement of — in-person dental care. We would love to know your thoughts.  

Wanting to get started on your dental health journey? Start it off right with Sinquefield Family Dentistry, your local, family-owned Murfreesboro dentistry office. Our dental team is focused on providing you with top dental care to give you the smile you desire. Contact us today.