In the words of Dr. Maria Kunstadter (DDS), “A perfect storm has been brewing up to create a hot Teledentistry market.”
Now, one may ask, What is Teledentistry? Well, isn’t it quite simple. Dentistry that is practiced over a telephone. But, all that we have heard to date is TeleMedicine. How can Dentistry be practiced over a phone call?
Well, at first, it may seem a bit absurd. With Medicine, we all know, it has been the case since so many years, just that current market demands it to be more efficient. You get a headache, you call the doctor, tell your symptoms, he will prescribe you certain medicines and run some tests for you. He receives the reports over the internet and devices a complete treatment plan for you virtually.
Dentists have been practicing teledentistry since the invention of telephone. It has been a common practice for patients to call up the dentist and ask for the required medications to provide symptomatic relief. The current times have forced us to get this practice into our standard system and think beyond the conventional dental care and try and provide standard care at the comforts of our patient’s homes.
TeleDentistry, essentially, is a virtual dentist to help with all the oral problems and seek proper advice, without having to step out of home. It utilises broadly the four modalities:
Synchronous – It involves a LIVE two way video call between the patient and the doctor.
Asynchronous – It involves transmission of recorded health information (ex- radiographs, photographs, digital impressions, etc) through an electronic communication, to a dentist who can render the required services.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) – Data of one patient can be transmitted via e-communication to a dentist in another remote location for the purposes of care.
Mobile Health (m health) – General dental health that is supported by mobiles, tablets and personal health assistants (PHA).
The virtual dentist can provide many services on just a video call or a phone call, and later an appointment can be scheduled on need basis.
- Learnings enabled through QR codes: These Quick Response Codes can help many patients to understand the treatment plan that has been suggested to them by way of the multimedia associated with the code. There have been programs, that are mediated through QRCs, to educate people about correct tooth brushing methods to prevent sepsis.
- Obtaining dental second opinions: This is a quick and easy method to obtain a tele or a video consult with a specialist on a proposed treatment.
- Obtaining quality dental care from remote areas.
Services like tele dentistry offer huge benefits, particularly in such troubled times. Obtaining the correct medicines and proper home remedies (if any) to provide interim relief, till the time an appointment can be scheduled, is what one can ask for.
The market for tele dentistry is on the boom and with the pandemic on the rise, these practices are here to stay. Such uncertain times call for these implausible measures. The dependency on the internet has never been so pronounced and omnipresent like the times, today.