|There is a widening gap in access to oral health care in our country: Three in four patients have experienced an obstacle to oral health care. These obstacles include cost and lack of insurance, a lack of dentists in the area, transportation challenges and language barriers.
Fortunately, these problems have solutions. And teledentistry is one of them.
What is teledentistry? The term refers to a variety of technologies and tactics used to virtually deliver oral health and education services. It helps to connect providers to each other or connects providers directly with patients in a variety of settings. Teledentistry facilitates patient self-management and caregiver support for patients and includes synchronous interactions (teleconferencing) and asynchronous transfers (chat, images, store and forward).
Teledentistry During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Teledentistry has been around for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put teledentistry into the spotlight. During the early months of the pandemic, virtual health interactions increased 50% as people reduced in-person visits due to stay-at-home orders. Patients, providers and policymakers learned more about how teledentistry works and identified opportunities to use it as a long-term complement to traditional dental care.
One study found that patients felt overwhelmingly positive about their teledentistry experience. Survey data from Oregon, released in June 2020, showed that 86% of patients said they would recommend teledentistry services to others.