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Teledentistry: New Innovations In The Dental Space

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In a world where we are already planning to settle on Mars, it shouldn’t come as a shock the progress that science and technology have made to provide us with hope for a significantly more advanced future. Teledentistry is one such example of this progress.Teledentistry: a new innovation

When we talk about the advances made in healthcare, it can be clearly observed through the improved services and raised health ratio in the human population. Biological sciences, information technology and engineering, together are innovating healthcare and defining it with newer boundaries. Every day, we take a step ahead into a better and improved healthcare system. 

Today, healthcare has evolved to provide services in a quicker, better and more accurate manner to the masses. Well-equipped machinery and technology are a major part of the healthcare system. The use of technology has helped medical professionals provide healthcare in places where their hands won’t reach. There are sections of human society that lack proper healthcare facilities due to poor access and lack of availability. 

That is where telehealth can play a huge role. It would go by saying “Words will reach where hands can’t .” This technological shift of medical services through communication over long distances is called “Telehealth”. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), Telehealth refers to a broad variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services. Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery.

 

What is Teledentistry?

growing use of Teledentistry
The term “Teledentistry” was first used in 1997 when Cook defined it as “the practice of using video-conferencing technologies to diagnose and provide advice about treatment over a distance.”

According to the American Dental Association, “Teledentistry refers to the use of telehealth systems and methodologies in dentistry.” It is a sub-specialist branch of telemedicine which helps in providing remote dental care to patients and dental education through online or telephonic media.

 

What is the Aim of Teledentistry?

The aim is to provide dental services in areas where they are not easily available and provide them with access to advanced dental technology and high-quality professional treatment to improve the standard of dental services in a cost and time-efficient manner.

 

How does Teledentistry Function?

Internet used for Teledentistry
It consists of long-distance detection, one-on-one conversations with the dentist, treatment planning and even education through long-distance communication technology. The Internet plays a major role in teledentistry as it allows the sharing of information and reduces the gap between the availability of healthcare and people in need who lack access.

X-rays and test results required for diagnosis can also be easily sent across long distances through the internet. Consultation is done through live teleconference or store and forward method. Even dental education can be provided through video calling. Dentist-patient communication is maintained in this manner. Through live conferencing, patients can communicate in real-time with the dentist. It can also be used by dentists to communicate on cases requiring multiple and advanced opinions. Through the store and forward method, information is collected and sent through in a saved manner where real-time communication is not possible. 

Teledentistry requires an internet connection, a storage memory disk and software. 

 

What Are Some Benefits of Teledentistry? 

  • It bridges the gap for access to quality services thus bringing equity to urban and rural healthcare systems.
  • Teledentistry is inexpensive compared to regular dentistry and reduces the cost of services for the low socio-economic class of society.
  • It reduces the time lag and thus provides faster services.
  • Teledentistry increases the reach of proper dental education among people.
  • It allows storage of data and exchange of information for a better chance of further advancement in dentistry.
  • A large number of people can also be reached through it.
  • The chances of early knowledge of the disease and treatment become possible.
  • Training of dentists in remote areas becomes feasible.

 

What are the Drawbacks Associated with Teledentistry?

Healthcare is a facility that requires human intervention. Dentist

Though diagnosis, consultation and treatment planning and education can be done through Teledentistry,  it has drawbacks when it comes to procedures that require the dentist to work with their hands. Dental treatments cannot be done. Internet and telecommunication are the basis of this creation. However, certain areas do not even have access to these facilities. In such cases, teledentistry can face rocks in the flow of services.  Even the ‘Store and forward’ method requires machinery that, at times, is not available. 

 

What is the Scope of Teledentistry?

Teledentistry has a bright future even if it lacks in some way today. With the continuous advancement and shift to the technological world, it will be able to overcome the drawbacks soon. A good example of teledentistry serving a great hand has to be the recent COVID-19 pandemic that started in the year 2020. 

It made dentists shift from clinical appointments to video consultations. Patients were able to receive a diagnosis as well as treatment and e-prescriptions online. Even dental students and dental professionals were educated through the means of teledentistry. Online demonstrations and information were easily provided.

Dentistry still managed to survive in providing dental health care during such a pandemic, thanks to teledentistry.

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