As technology improves, dentists and patients are leaning into the many advantages of new dental care technology.
Telemedicine is booming, and is here to stay; a recent survey found that 80 percent of patients would use telemedicine if given the chance.
One of the most important sectors in this explosive demand for telemedicine is teledentistry. “The pandemic accelerated an adoption that was well underway in healthcare,” says Brant Herman, CEO and founder of MouthWatch, a leading teledentistry company. “What used to be just for convenience suddenly elevated into necessity.”
Dental visits from home
Oral health goes beyond your teeth. Poor oral health can contribute to other medical conditions like endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, periodontitis, and pneumonia. That’s why keeping up with dental care is essential, even when physically going to a dental office isn’t possible.
“Dental care is especially important when our routines have changed,” says Dr. Zeynep Barakat, D.M.D. “It’s good to touch base with your dentist — maybe you’re grinding more, or you’re snacking more and not brushing enough.”
“Preventive care is huge,” notes Herman. “If a dentist can address something earlier, it helps everyone. What we want to see is for dentistry to shift towards more whole-patient care.”
Dr. Barakat agrees — she uses MouthWatch’s TeleDent platform in her practice. “I use TeleDent to communicate with other specialists, to have conversations with patients, and create an integrated patient care point,” she says. “That’s key because specialists and dentists communicating together only helps the patient. You can actually have video conversations with your specialist, or you can message them through this one platform where the patient data is uploaded.”
Benefits of teledentistry
Teledentistry’s benefits go beyond patient data. Dr. Barakat also notes that these platforms can encourage patients who experience anxiety to keep up with their oral health since it reduces the number of physical office visits required. “It gives a patient an opportunity to have a consultation while they’re in their living room, taking notes with their spouse next to them,” she notes. “I think that gives the patient a more positive view. It might remove a barrier.”
Telemedicine in general is also more efficient, saving patients over two hours versus in-office visits, for example. “These things that used to require a patient office visit and 15 minutes of chair time,” says Herman, “can now be done virtually, and with a positive experience for patients. If we can reduce the number of visits that require that physical contact to the ones where care has to be physically delivered, you have a happier patient base, you have a more efficient practice.”
There are cost savings as well, as dentists can reduce the need for personal protective equipment and other gear by shifting appointments that don’t require physical contact to the virtual realm.
Dr. Barakat thinks teledentistry platforms like TeleDent improve care. “I use an intraoral camera for all my patients in the office,” she says. “That gives me baseline photos I can upload onto the platform. If a patient has an urgent issue at home, they can use their smartphone to take photos and upload them. I can refer to those photos if a patient has a specific issue with a specific tooth because I already have a baseline.”
Dr. Barakat is enthusiastic about the future of teledentistry. “These platforms will be a tool going forward,” she predicts. “TeleDent has been a game-changer. The specialists have access to the patient information, and they can look at it in their own time. I have notes on there, I have everything I need, and we go back and forth. It’s just a great communication tool between doctors.”
For patients and providers looking for more information on teledentistry, visit MouthWatch at www.mouthwatch.com/teledentistry.