More Americans already take an interest in having to consult healthcare professionals where and when it is convenient to them. In actuality, research claims that 60% of American households with access to internet seem to be interested with remote care – may it be online or via phone.

A new innovative method of virtual dental services referred as teledentistry has flourished with all of this transition to telehealth. Video consultations link the patient’s computer, laptop, or smartphone to a virtual dentist who will diagnose the patient’s underlying problem and help them to quickly feel better, which usually includes an electronic prescription or e-script for an antibiotic treatment and/or non-narcotic pain drug. Next day dental appointments will then be booked with a dentist, conveniently situated located near the patient whenever follow-up dental care will be required.

Generally speaking, a virtual dentist ought to be able to provide teledentist solution

that offered through a video consultation round the clock for pressing oral and dental concerns. The above strategy addresses dental problems earlier on before they can become extremely complicated and, at the same time, it will improve the outcomes of patients’ dental concerns. Real-time digital technology provides patients with an experienced virtual dentist that they need whenever they need it the most.

How Having a Virtual Dentist or Teledentistry Works

Teledentistry provides a remote link between the patient and a virtual dentist, but this does not completely eliminate the human element. As the virtual dentist observes and provides assistance remotely, a dental assistant is very often available to assess a patient. In addition, the virtual dentist can deal directly with the patient through the use of email or app, continuing to provide guidance and track the progress of a patient.

For example, there is customizable and reliable web-based software at a clinic of the virtual dentist that can allow both real-time streaming and clinical data gathering (store and forward) that includes diagnostic footage, videos, clinical documents, diagnostic procedures, and much more, enabling the virtual dentist to facilitate an assessment remotely and suggest next appropriate actions.

Online dentistry applications integrate and adapt multiple features of online dentistry such as electronic clinical imaging, electronic medical records, as well as wireless communication while connecting a virtual dentist to their patients or dentist to their colleagues via an online service.

This enhanced chance for standardized interaction and cooperation between dentists is a win for all that will develop complementary care teams and enhance patient outputs.

Dentists who adopt teledentistry have such a significant advantage. The dentistry marketplace is now becoming fiercely competitive, and another excellent way for dentists to distinguish themselves from their rivals would be through offering a teledentistry service.

The Impact of a Virtual Dentist or Teledentistry

On patients in general

The advantages of having an easy access to virtual dentists are the following:

  1. Quick and easy assessment

Patients can easily send a picture or a video of their dental concern to the virtual dentist. If there is already an existing dental record of the patient which is assessed by the dentist personally, then further assessment of the problem can just be done remotely or through online.

  1. Fast pain relief

Whenever a patient suffers pain or needs antibiotic medications for an abscess during the night or a weekend, instead of going to the local hospital’s Emergency Room (ER) or enduring the continuing pain, they could very well obtain a prescription from a virtual dentist.

  1. Cost-effective monitoring

Having a virtual dentist is a cost-effective way for patients to be able to track their dental treatments, which would be particularly crucial in assessing if there is any tooth movement development.

  1. Safe and effective

Teledentistry treatments have now been included within the health insurance coverage in the United States, establishing it as a developing and constant trend. Moreover, a research shows that having access to virtual dentists are safe and effective, and another study also highlighted the advantages of using advanced technological approaches to provide the underprivileged with oral care, especially in rural places.

  1. Comfortability

Research shows that 64% of patients are much more comfortable talking to their virtual dentist via a video call rather than having to talk with them personally all the time. Patients also revealed that they have a sense of confidence in knowing their diagnosis through a video conference rather than knowing about it through an email or a phone call.

Therefore, a virtual dentist can provide patients with the timely treatment they need, saving money and time while providing quick pain relief, prompt contact to a dentist, and oral care information.

On professional dentists

In conjunction to care of the patient, the ability to have a video chat with a professional virtual dentist offers a exceptional way to address geographic constraints to still provide clinical training as well as ongoing education to dentists, specialized dental therapists, and dental hygienists.

It also enhances interprofessional coordination, enhancing the integration of dentistry into the broader delivery system for health care. By using real-time clinical illustrations, the referrals, pre-authorizations and some other insurance requirements can also be handled swiftly online. It therefore helps make dental care more effective, eventually leading to cost reduction of dental offices, the patients, and other payers from third parties.

Telehealth can also encourage increased use within non-traditional situations of dentists and non-dentists alike to facilitate a patient’s early diagnosis, treatment and referral. Live video chatting, intraoral screen development, and straightforward examinations allow the virtual dentist to gather and discuss all pertinent patient data and dental information.

New methods and practice approaches also provide possibilities for a dentist to attract new patients, increase revenue, and attain care equity via innovation and much more effective delivery of care.

On a hospital’s Emergency Room

Several hospitals and emergency treatment facilities had already started to set up teledentistry services via the internet. This enables ERs and emergency care centers to simply reach out to a virtual dentist specialist who can manage oral care concerns at a portion of a emergency room cost that patients’ pay.

Typically, visits to dental ERs are such a rampant, expensive public health issue. Having a toothache has been the primary complaint at the ER, preceded by back pains, a headache or migraines, mental health conditions, as well as sore throats.

Needless to say, many, if not most, hospital Emergency Rooms are not equipped for treating dental conditions or disorders of patients. Even though a sparse number of medical centres or hospitals have dentists as an ER staff, it is not the rule, but already an exception if they have one.

Just about all patients demanding dental care in ERs will only receive medicines for pain or antibiotics and will be referred back to their local dental practitioners. However, patients almost always return to the ER for the same dental concern owing to affordability considerations and lack of dental insurance coverage, which in many instances becomes more complex.

On children and schools

Many children in this world have serious teeth problems. Such problems are often not restricted to purely dental health. And having unhealthy teeth in children can have a negative impact on different aspects of their lives.

There was a write-up that stated that persistent pain, along with accompanying eating and sleeping problems, considers dental health as one of the major causes of chronic school absences of many young learners. It was also said that children between the ages of 5 and 17 miss more or less two million school days in a year worldwide attributed to issues with dental health.

Teledentistry affects children, educational institutions, and schooling a great deal. It gives students the opportunity to remain at school and to get the education that they need. Putting the focus on dental health care reduces ER trips and pressing dental emergency situations, leading in much less absences and therefore more learning time.

Competent dental health practitioners – mostly dental hygienists – are the ones sent to schools and conduct or perform straightforward dental procedures and also provide preventative oral care. They can primarily build a dental clinic (that is usually a pop-up) and give most of the treatments which are widely available inside a dental office.

This is fantastic news for both the children and the school. The Healthy Schools Campaign had claimed that teledentistry eliminates one of the most notable barriers children faces to achieve good attendance and academic achievement by providing preventative care and basic treatment available in schools.

On senior living facilities

Older people more often than not disregard their dental hygiene, especially true in the elderly who is in a facility for seniors. Teledentistry or having access to a virtual dentist can minimize the dental examination effort and expense and will provide the appropriate treatment for senior patients.

This will be ideal especially for nursing homes. A lot of dental complications can appear instantly and spread very quickly with the seniors as their treatments and circumstances change. Letting a dental hygienist to reach out to areas like nursing homes with their virtual dentist can indeed guarantee that many patients will be able to receive the dental services they need even if their residence or capacity change.

On people living on rural areas

As per the University of Albany, teledentistry or having access to a virtual dentist emerges as a viable solution for patients that are living in rural places. Ease of access to dental services is often lacking in rural areas, with people traveling many miles to see the nearest dentist. Researchers have shown that teledentistry would provide essential services in which there are current gaps, notably for treatment planning and specialized consultations, as a means of improving access to dental health services in places where primary and specialized dental care is inadequately accessible.

Considerations about constrained availability for underserved communities to dental health services are influencing providers to establish new operational efficiency methods to satisfy the needs of those who have access restrictions. This really is particularly true in remote rural areas of which there are restricted dental health care providers, increased numbers of the elderly, high poverty levels, as well as low dental insurance rates.

A virtual dentist utilizes telecommunications and information technology including such that of video conferencing for dental treatments, consultations and dental care education. Respondents in the research study highlighted the advantages of teledentistry or having an access to a virtual dentist, such as how they can handle dental health assessments, recognizes treatment demands, teach patients on treatment alternatives and also provide necessary referrals. Other significant findings are as follows:

  • Patients endure shorter waiting times for consultations and dental services, and oral health care providers consider teledentistry as very convenient, speedy, and cost-effective.
  • Teledentistry facilitates sparse dental services to be used efficiently in underprivileged societies and enables dental providers to treat the patients to the optimal level of care.
  • Sustaining teledentistry operations needs continuous engagement in sponsoring organizations by a diverse range of healthcare professionals and support workers.

Teledentistry is primarily related with advancing availability to service in dentistry of public health, generally by allowing hygienists to provide dental care healthcare within their field of expertise whilst also functioning under a virtual dentist’s remote observation. It has already been concluded that this approach works and continues to grow.

Nevertheless, the remarkable potential of teledentistry to provide stable connectivity and simplify remote clinical interaction also pushes the prompt utilization of this technology in all aspects of dentistry – especially in a private practice. In the above instance, the goal would be less about the facilitation of access to care among underprivileged and impoverished communities, and more about maximizing case recognition, enhance patient experience, and promote collaborative dental care in increasingly competitive and relatively affluent suburban and urban places.

Easy access to a virtual dentist, or more commonly called now as teledentistry, is quite evidently making a genuine and meaningful change in the lives of people. As even more dentists adopt this new innovative technology, more patients can now easily gain access to the dental care and services that they really need.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Teledentristry: How Having a Virtual Dentist Affects the Lives of People," in Medicalopedia, August 20, 2019, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/7698/teledentristry-how-having-a-virtual-dentist-affects-the-lives-of-people/].