The Dawn of The Digital Dental Clinic
“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” -John F. Kennedy
Take a minute to think about these modern day scenarios:
In the busy routine of a 21st century citizen a regular dental check-up is not a priority. In most instances this leads to an emergency situation where only disability limitation and rehabilitation is possible.
So how can we provide primary dental care without upending the daily schedule of our patients?
Did you know that only 50% of people visit a dentist and that too only when it gets painful? This is because majority of the population lack awareness about dental care which makes it a scary predicament for them to visit a dentist.
So as dentists isn’t it our duty to understand our patients and ease their dental phobia?
During this COVID-19 lockdown, most private dental clinics are closed.
How can we provide expert dental care to people at home or monitor ongoing treatments?
Teledentistry might just be the magic formula to fix all these problems!
Teledentistry in a nutshell, is the use of information technology and telecommunications for dental care, consultation, education and public awareness that are not confined by the restraints of distance or time. This means that, if the patient cannot come to your clinic, you can take the clinic to the patient!
Teledentistry can be practiced through different modalities:
Real time consultation: In this method, the dentist can communicate with the patient over a distance by video conferencing. This is the quickest and the most convenient method of information transfer.
Store and forward: In this method, the dentist stores information about the patient which includes their history, radiographs and other information pertaining to their health status relevant for proper diagnosis and treatment planning. This method takes time as it requires the practitioner to investigate and analyse to devise an appropriate treatment plan.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM): Personal health and medical data are collected from an individual in one location via electronic communication technologies, this is then transmitted to a dentist at a different location for providing care.
Mobile health (mHealth): Health care and public health practice and education is provided through mobile communication devices such as smartphones, tablet computers, and personal digital assistants (PDA).
Like any new concept, Teledentistry is not without flaws:
Services you can provide via Teledentistry are:
Teledentistry can be used for dental assessments with photos and videos taken by the patient themselves, or through existing dental records taken by a dentist in person.
Another way to collect records is to send out trained dental assistants to places of business where screening can be done and reports then sent back to the dentist. The dentist can then evaluate each patient remotely and necessary treatment plans can be forwarded to the patient and a clinic visit, if required, can be scheduled.
When a patient is in pain and needs antibiotics and/or painkillers, a prescription can be provided remotely instead of sending the patient to their primary physician or doing nothing and having someone in terrible pain until they can have a physical appointment.
Teledentistry is a simple and cost effective way to monitor dental treatments, particularly in the case of orthodontics. It’s a great way for a dentist to supervise and monitor the progress of teeth movement remotely, without having to call the patient in every month. Follow up of patients after treatment, supervision of habit breaking treatments, counselling and awareness sessions can also be done via teledentistry.