Benefits, Use Cases, and Challenges of Teledentistry in Healthcare

by Anastasiia Diachenko

Dentistry has always been a critical aspect of healthcare, and the field is continuing to evolve with the rise of teledentistry. Virtual dental care is experiencing a surge in popularity as a new form of delivering dental care. This technology enables dental professionals to provide care remotely, which can bring a number of benefits to both doctors and patients. 

At Alternative-spaces, we have worked for more than 20 years in the healthcare sector and have a great number cases to share. 

For this article, we asked our experts to tell about the benefits and uses of teledentistry, including how it can help improve access to quality dental care for patients around the world. 

Teledentistry and How It Works

Teledentistry is the use of telecommunications technology to provide dental care and education remotely. It can be used to connect patients with dental care providers, to deliver dental education or training, or to facilitate the delivery of dental care. Remote dental care has been shown to improve access to dental care, increase patient satisfaction, and decrease costs.

There are two main types of teledentistry: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous teledentistry involves real-time interaction between the patient and provider, while asynchronous teledentistry does not. The latter involves collecting patient data, uploading it to the cloud, integrating mHealth solutions, and using remote patient monitoring. Both types of teledentistry can be used for diagnosis, treatment planning, consultation, or second opinions.

Teledentistry can be used to provide dental care to patients who are unable to access traditional dental care. This includes patients who live in rural or underserved areas, who have disabilities that make it difficult to access care, or who have transportation problems. Teledentistry can also be used to provide care to patients who have a fear of going to the dentist.

Remote dentistry can be used to deliver dental education and training. It can be used to provide continuing education for dental professionals or to train new dentists. Teledentistry can also be used to provide patient education on oral health topics such as tooth brushing and flossing.

Some of the ways that teledentistry software can be used include prescribing emergency pain medication or antibiotics outside of office hours, evaluating the condition of a dental appliance for orthodontics using live video or still photos from the patient’s camera, or overseeing the work of a hygienist working off-site, such as in a prison, school, or nursing home. 

Teledentistry can also be used to give patients advice on home care or after-surgery routines, recommend dental treatments such as specific toothbrushes or oral rinses and check up on patient compliance and experiences with these treatments. Additionally, teledentistry software can be used to update a patient’s medical history, chart, or treatment plan, review digital X-rays with a specialist, and provide second opinions on treatment plans.

Cavities treatment is performed using teledentistry software by creating a 3D model of the patient’s mouth. This allows the dentist to see the patient’s mouth in great detail and plan the best course of treatment. 

This technology provides many benefits to healthcare professionals and patients. Let’s consider the main pluses of remote dental care in more detail.

Benefits of Implementing Teledentistry Technology

Better healthcare outcomes

Teledentistry has been shown to improve oral health overall and increase access to care for patients, especially those in underserved populations. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis found that teledentistry interventions were associated with significant reductions in plaque and gingivitis.

Increased dental care access 

Teledentistry can also help increase access to care for patients who have transportation or childcare issues, or who live in remote areas. A study conducted in Australia found that implementing a teledentistry program increased the number of dental visits for children living in rural and remote areas by nearly 50%.

Reduced resources spent

In addition to improving oral health outcomes, teledentistry can also save time and money. A study conducted by NCBI found that teledentistry consultations resulted in a cost savings of nearly $50 per patient when compared to in-person visits.

Streamlined and automated scheduling

Teledentistry can help streamline and automate your scheduling, making it easier to keep track of appointments and cancellations. This can free up time for you and your staff, so that you can focus on providing quality care to your patients. In addition, teledentistry can help improve patient satisfaction by providing them with more convenient access to dental care. 

And finally, teledentistry can help reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations by allowing patients to schedule appointments online or through a mobile app. All of these factors can lead to increased revenues for your practice.

Early diagnosis

One of the key benefits of teledentistry is early diagnosis. With teledentistry, dentists can catch problems earlier than they would be able to with traditional in-person appointments. This means that treatment can be rendered more quickly and efficiently, often resulting in lower overall costs. 

In addition, teledentistry can also help to improve patient compliance with treatment plans by providing education and reminders remotely. Ultimately, this can lead to better health outcomes for patients and lower costs for dental practices.

Increased oral care education

Teledentistry has been shown to be an effective way to provide oral care education. A study published in the Journal of Dental Education found that teledentistry was associated with a significant decrease in the number of cavities and an increase in the number of teeth that were brushed daily. The authors conclude that teledentistry is an effective means of providing oral care education and may be a useful tool for dental schools and community programs.

Overall, teledentistry has been shown to be an effective way to improve oral health outcomes and increase access to care for patients, especially those in underserved populations. Implementing a teledentistry program can save time and money while also improving the oral health of patients.

Use Cases of Teledentistry In Healthcare

Private practice

Teledentistry can also be used in private practices to improve communication with patients. Private practitioners can use teledentistry to consult with patients about their dental care, share radiographs and images, and provide treatment recommendations. 

In addition, teledentistry can be used to improve patient communication by providing patients with access to their dental records and appointment scheduling.

Group practice

Teledentistry can be used in group practices to facilitate communication between dental providers. Group practices can use teledentistry to consult with each other on cases, share radiographs and images, and provide treatment planning recommendations. 

In addition, teledentistry can be used to improve patient communication by providing patients with access to their dental records and appointment scheduling.

Medical-dental collaborations

Teledentistry can also be used in medical-dental collaborations to improve communication between dental providers and medical providers. Medical-dental collaborations can use teledentistry to consult with each other on cases, share radiographs and images, and provide treatment planning recommendations. 

In addition, teledentistry can be used to improve patient communication by providing patients with access to their dental records and appointment scheduling.

Public health

Teledentistry can also be used in public health to improve communication between dental providers and the community. Public health organizations can use teledentistry to consult with dental providers on cases, share radiographs and images, and provide treatment recommendations. 

In addition, teledentistry can be used to improve patient communication by providing patients with access to their dental records and appointment scheduling.

Medical training and education

Teledentistry can be used for medical training in a number of ways. It can be used to provide virtual dental consultations to medical students, as well as to train dentists in how to use new technology and procedures. 

Additionally, teledentistry can be used to create educational materials, such as 3D models of teeth or video demonstrations of dental procedures.

Research and analysis

Teledentistry can play a major role in medical research by providing a way to collect data from patients remotely. This can be particularly useful for studies that require a large number of participants, or for those that need to follow participants over time. 

For example, a teledentistry-based study could collect data on the effects of a new dental treatment or material, without the need to bring patients into a clinic.

Thus, teledentistry has many potential uses in different settings such as group practices, private practices, medical-dental collaborations, and public health. Each setting has its own unique needs that teledentistry can address. By using this technology, dental providers can improve communication with patients and each other, share radiographs and images, and provide treatment recommendations.

Teledentistry In Action: Real Examples

Teledentistry has been used in a number of different settings, with great success. Here are some examples:

Apple Tree Dental: teledentistry from 2002 to 2020

Apple Tree Dental is a teledentistry company that provides dental services to patients in public health, clinical collaboration, private practice, and medical-dental settings. Apple Tree Dental provides school-based sealant programs in which a dental hygienist goes to schools to place sealants on the teeth of children who do not have access to a dentist. 

The hygienist then sends digital photographs of the sealed teeth to a remote dentist for review. This program has been successful in reducing barriers to care, as well as improving program efficiency by eliminating the need for the dentist to be on-site.

Apple Tree Dental has also used teledentistry to respond to staffing shortages. In one instance, when a full-time dentist left the practice, the remaining staff used teledentistry to connect with a remote dentist who could provide coverage for the practice. This allowed Apple Tree Dental to continue providing care to its patients without interruption.

Petaluma Health patient-centered care

Teledentistry has played a vital role in the provision of dental care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Petaluma Health Center is one of many organizations that have implemented synchronous dental visits, which allow providers to see patients in real-time via video conferencing platforms such as Zoom. 

This modality of care has helped to ensure that patients can still receive the dental care they need while social distancing measures are in place. Synchronous dental visits have several advantages over traditional in-person appointments. 

First, they eliminate the need for patients to travel to the dental office, which reduces exposure to the virus. 

Second, they allow providers to see multiple patients at once, which helps to reduce the overall number of people in the dental office and further reduces exposure to the virus. 

Finally, synchronous dental visits allow providers to more easily control the environment in which they are seeing patients. This is important because it minimizes the risk of cross-contamination and ensures that proper infection control measures are being followed.

Ravenswood Family Health teledentistry 

Ravenswood Family Health Network has been a pioneer in teledentistry, implementing a Virtual Dental Home project back in 2010. This was one of the first examples of how teledentistry could be used to provide access to dental care for underserved populations. The project proved to be successful in terms of both patient outcomes and cost savings, and since then Ravenswood has continued to use teledentistry as a way to improve access to care.

There are a number of different teledentistry delivery platforms, software and applications being used by Ravenswood. One example is the use of two-way video conferencing to allow patients to consult with dentists remotely. This has proved to be particularly useful for those who live in rural or remote areas, or who have difficulty accessing dental services due to transportation issues.

Teledentistry has been integrated into the existing dental workflow at Ravenswood in a number of ways. 

For example, patient records are stored electronically and can be accessed by dentists using the teledentistry system. This allows for more efficient and effective delivery of care, as dentists can quickly and easily obtain the information they need to make treatment decisions. In addition, Ravenswood has developed protocols and policies specifically for teledentistry, which ensure that patients receive the same high level of care regardless of whether they are seen in person or via the teledentistry system.

Synchronous and asynchronous teledentistry by Horizon Health Care

Horizon Health Care is a Federally Qualified Health Center that provides primary and preventive dental care to its patients. 

In order to enhance access to care, Horizon has implemented a teledentistry program that uses technology to connect dentists and dental specialists with patients who might not otherwise have access to care. This program allows Horizon to reach patients in remote areas, as well as those who have transportation or child care challenges. 

Additionally, the use of teledentistry can help reduce wait times for appointments and make it easier for patients to get the care they need in a timely manner. By using teledentistry, Horizon is able to provide high-quality dental care to its patients, regardless of their location or circumstance.

Capitol Dental Care Virtual Dental Home

Capitol Dental Care, Inc. (CDC), a non-profit community dental clinic in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been at the forefront of teledentistry since its inception in 2004. CDC’s teledentistry program began as a pilot project aimed at providing dental care to patients in remote areas of the state who would otherwise have difficulty accessing dental care. 

The pilot project was so successful that it led to the establishment of the CDC’s Virtual Dental Home (VDH) program in 2007. Patients can either visit the CDC’s physical clinic or one of its eight satellite clinics, or they can use the VDH website to submit photos and other dental information online. A team of dentists and dental hygienists then review the case and provide treatment recommendations. Patients can then choose to follow up with their local dentist for treatment, or they can receive care from CDC.

In addition, the program has helped reduce barriers to oral health care access, such as transportation and scheduling challenges. The VDH program is a great example of how teledentistry can improve access to dental care and make a difference in the lives of patients.

How Alternative-spaces Can Help You

For the last 20 years, we gained valuable experience in developing healthcare products both for SMBs and enterprises. This is due to several reasons. 

First, we stick to the Lean Inception method to help healthcare organizations speed up the development of new apps and get them to market faster. By using the principles of Lean Startup, we reduce the risk of developing an app that no one will use. We help teams focus on building the right thing, rather than just building something quickly. We accomplish this by helping companies validate their ideas early on and getting feedback from potential users throughout the development process. 

Alternative-spaces specialists define the right set of functionality and technology stack and know how to release the product on time if the client trusts us with the outsourcing process. In general, we help businesses solve software development challenges with custom solutions that automate business processes, improve treatment outcomes and the patient’s experience, boost productivity, and reduce operating costs. 

Second, we know how healthcare data security is crucial during all stages of development. From the initial design and development phases to testing, deployment, and ongoing maintenance, data security is a top priority to protect sensitive patient information. 

Third, the Alternative-spaces team believes healthcare compliance is critical for businesses to maintain a high standard of care for their patients or customers. And we take this responsibility on ourselves while businesses can focus on more value-generating tasks. And here are some examples of healthcare products we’ve worked with:

  • Health monitoring solutions
  • Appointment scheduling systems
  • Medical CRM
  • Healthcare mobile apps
  • Medical data management
  • Patient care management
  • Personnel activity tracking

To Recap

With the recent rise in popularity of teledentistry, it’s important to understand the many benefits and use cases for this technology. 

In addition to being more convenient for patients, teledentistry can also help reduce costs and improve access to care. As more dental practices begin to adopt teledentistry, it’s likely that we will see even more benefits emerge. 

Thus, if you’re interested in teledentistry platform development and look for a detailed consultation on this topic, Alternative-spaces experts will be glad to help. Just drop us a line and we’ll get back to you soon!

Content created by our partner, Onix-systems.


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