Patients sometimes ask, “What is Teledentistry?” During uncertain times people have a renewed interest in remote or telemedical services. Medical professionals see patients remotely for some screening, educational and basic consultations. Teledentistry extends that concept to oral health care.
The concept isn’t new. Some doctors have offered telemedicine over the phone for decades. However, phone consultations are somewhat limited since the provider can’t see the patient.
Renewed Interest in Teledentistry
Modern communication technology makes it easier than ever for a doctor or dentist to offer telemedicine or teledentistry. Most patients have access to a phone with a camera or a laptop with a webcam. Two-way audio and visual communication capabilities enable the patient and provider to see and interact with each other.
Some communication methods used may include:
- Two-way video conferencing through a secure application.
- Sharing of photographs or videos for the provider to view.
- Remote data monitoring such as viewing data from a medical device the patient uses like a smart thermometer or blood pressure cuff.
- Sharing various health education resources through a website or mobile app.
Teledentistry saves trips into the office if the dentist or dental specialist just needs to check in about symptoms or “take a look.” It also allows a dentist to see more patients and helps keep costs down while increasing access to care.
The American Dental Association guidelines require all dentists practicing teledentistry to establish appropriate referral procedures, so they are prepared to refer the patient if an in-patient visit is needed, but they are not able to do it due to physical distance or another reason. The licensed dental office also needs to ensure privacy as much as possible in keeping with current medical standards. When appropriate measures are in place, teledentistry offers a solution to the problem many people face where they lack access to a dental provider or procrastinate seeking care due to inconvenience, anxiety, or other barriers to scheduling an office visit.
Teledentistry and Social Distancing
Recent outbreaks resulted in limits on in-office visits for non-emergency conditions. This prompted health professionals all over the world to offer telemedicine and teledentistry to ensure their patients still have access to consistent care and advice. A tele-visit also helps a provider see when a specific patient needs more immediate in-person care and makes the best use of limited office visits since health providers need to minimize the number of patients in their office or waiting room during times requiring social distancing.
Of course, many dental services require an in-person visit, so teledentistry is not a replacement for traditional dentistry. However, it can replace some routine in-office appointments used to share information or to follow-up on treatment plans.
Great for People Traveling or Away From Home
People who are traveling or spending an extended time abroad often ask, “What is Teledentistry?” For some of these individuals, access to advice and remote care from a primary care dentist or dental specialist, they trust helps ensure consistency in care. The remote dentist may refer them to a local dentist for an office visit if the patient requires in-person treatment.
Sometimes a patient may experience an infection that requires a prescription like antibiotics. This can be especially stressful if it happens while a patient is on vacation or traveling for business. Rather than find a local dentist, telemedicine allows the patient to be seen by their usual trusted dentist, who can then determine whether they can remotely prescribe treatment or whether they need to refer the patient to a local dentist for an in-person appointment. Either way, treatment is more seamless than a one-time visit to an unknown provider, and the patient receives quality care.
Teledentistry for Preventative Health and Informative Consultations
Aside from regular oral cleaning sessions, so much of a dental provider’s “routine” care involves patient education or training patients on how to best care for themselves. Some of this can happen through video communication. Teledentistry also makes follow-up, and post-procedure check-in visits more convenient as the patient can have a conversation with their provider in the comfort of their own home.
Teledentistry may also help prepare a patient for an upcoming procedure or treatment. Having a chance to ask questions about the procedure and share details like the patient’s medical history virtually saves an office visit. For patients who feel anxiety over seeing a dentist and a virtual visit may help the patient prepare for the in-person procedure as they get to know the provider and learn more about what to expect during the visit.
Sometimes a patient has an accident, injury, or another emergency that requires a visit to an urgent care or emergency room medical facility. The incident may not be strictly dental; for example, a patient who was in a car accident may have dental needs as well as other medical needs. Emergency health providers can consult with the patient’s dentist through telemedicine if necessary. The ability of medical professionals to collaborate improves the patient’s access to the best medical care possible. Telemedicine makes this possible in situations where the dentist is not able to physically visit the emergency room or if the attending provider just needs a quick answer to a question about the patient’s treatment needs.
Teledentistry at Ballantyne Endodontics
Here at Ballantyne Endodontics, we are excited to announce that we have launched teledentistry in our office. We feel offering this service will help streamline your dental procedures and limit your time in the office as much as possible. Even though the stay-at-home order will be lifted soon, we want to help maintain social distancing practices to keep our team and patients safe.
What will teledentistry look like at Ballantyne Endodontics? We will use this technology to conduct the first part of your consultation appointment. We will be able to meet with you and collect about half of the information needed for your apportionment. This will include completing all of your paperwork and getting a general assessment from our team. This will greatly limit your time in the office.
Once you complete this first step, you will only need to come into the office for x-rays and to physically meet with your doctor.
On top of using teledentistry for conducting parts of the consultation appointments, we also plan to use the technology to:
- Assess emergency dental needs and the need for a prescription
- Evaluate those too sick to come into the office
- Recommend treatment plans
- And more …
We’re Here if You Need Us
We hope that answers some of your questions like “What is Teledentistry?” Teledentistry offers exciting options in enhancing patient care but isn’t a complete replacement for traditional in-person care.
We at Ballantyne Endodontics use contemporary best practices and the latest technology to deliver state-of-the-art care to our patients. Contact us today if you have any questions about Endodontic care in the Charlotte area.