COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous challenges for workers in the healthcare industry. Many of the hospitals managing Coronavirus patients have been forced to partially close some of their departments to prevent other doctors, nurses, and patients from catching the virus.
These hospitals have also suspended non-essential or elective surgeries in order to increase the availability of PPEs for healthcare workers that are treating Coronavirus patients. This has made it difficult for Americans without severe health problems to visit doctors for check-ups during the crisis.
Many dental clinics across the US have also stopped offering non-emergency services during the pandemic in an effort to slow down the spread of the virus. However, a growing number of clinics have begun using teledentistry to provide patients with dental checkups and monitor dental treatments remotely.
What is teledentistry?
Teledentistry refers to the practice of providing dental services to patients remotely. Patients who use teledentistry can see dentists through virtual dental consultations and can get check-ups and assessments done via video calls.
Teledentistry allows patients with non-urgent dental concerns or on-going treatment to receive dental services without risking exposure to the Coronavirus.
What practices does teledentistry include?
Teledentistry includes dental practices such as:
Providing virtual check-ups
Teledentistry makes it possible for dentists to meet with patients via video calls and perform virtual assessments. Dentists can use these virtual check-ups to differentiate between patients with issues that require emergency treatment and patients with less urgent problems.
These dental professionals can schedule in-person treatment for patients with time-sensitive emergencies, and provide remote treatment advice for patients who are suffering from more minor issues such as toothaches, swelling, damaged teeth, or cold sores.
This method can reduce the total number of patients that dentists need to see in-person while still offering check-ups for all patients.
Monitoring on-going treatments
Many patients that were undergoing long term orthodontic treatment prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 can catch up on dental visits through teledentistry. Dentists can monitor the progress of long term treatments via video calls. They may also be able to review x-rays provided by patients via email or uploaded to teledentistry servers.
Dental experts can then schedule in-person treatment changes based on their video assessments.
Why is teledentistry becoming so popular?
More and more dental clinics are adopting the use of teledentistry in their practices. Here are some reasons why:
Keeping dentists and patients safe
Teledentistry helps dentists and their patients practice safe social distancing measures during the crisis. Dental professionals can play their part in slowing down the spread of COVID-19 by using teledentistry practices.
Earning revenue during COVID-19
The Coronavirus pandemic may have slowed down activities in many industries, but it hasn’t slowed down the frequency with which dental problems occur. Teledentistry enables dentists to meet the country’s neverending demand for dental services, and provide treatment options for people that need them the most.
This makes it a valuable tool for dental clinics that wish to remain open and earn revenue during the pandemic.
Reducing the load on other hospitals
As mentioned earlier, certain hospitals have had to shut down their facilities to accommodate Coronavirus patients. This leaves patients with dental problems without access to treatment options at these hospitals during the pandemic.
However, these patients can seek out virtual consultations and have their issues addressed by dentists at other dental clinics. This practice reduces the patient load at hospitals that offer dental treatments in addition to their other medical services.
Patients who require emergency treatment can be scheduled for surgeries at hospitals after dentists have determined the severity of their dental problems.
Providing check-ups for patients located outside the region
Teledentistry also enables dentists to perform a virtual check up on patients who live far from their clinic. This means patients can seek out virtual check-ups and treatments from dentists located in other states.
Dental clinics can compete with clinics in other regions on the basis of service quality using teledentistry. This could help boost revenue for clinics that are committed to providing patients with the best quality services in the COVID-19 crisis.
Dental services without the need for clinics
Another benefit of using teledentistry is that it enables dentists to provide patients with virtual check-ups and monitor treatments without reopening their clinics. Owners of dental clinics may be able to save on rent and maintenance by offering exclusively teledentistry services during the pandemic.
Building rental and maintenance costs are usually major expenses for clinics. So this option could provide relief for clinics that are struggling to stay afloat through the crisis.
Challenges of teledentistry
Technology has come a long way to assist doctors in the present day. The equipment and tools used for teledentistry enable dentists to perform accurate check-ups with the help of high-quality videos and images.
These technological advances have made virtual check-ups and remote treatments options better than ever before. However, certain dentists and clinics may have difficulty adopting teledentistry practices due to their limited knowledge of IT.
Owners of these clinics could seek out dental practice consulting services to help them set up and implement teledentistry services at their clinic.
Some patients may also have difficulty using teledentistry services. Many older patients tend to have difficulty with remote conferencing or video-sharing tools that are used in teledentistry. These patients could also have trouble providing dentists with high-quality videos due to the limitations of their internet services or device cameras.
The Future of Teledentistry
The Coronavirus pandemic conditions are expected to last for the foreseeable future. Most hospitals and clinics will need to adapt to this new “normal” if they wish to provide patients with the services they require.
Teledentistry is actually a newer subset of telemedicine, which has been providing patients with remote consultation and treatment services for years. The field of telemedicine has grown rapidly since its inception, and has proved to be invaluable for patients living in remote areas.
Teledentistry will enjoy the same success that other telemedicine fields have witnessed over the years due to America’s neverending need for dental services.
If you’re interested in using teledentistry at your dental clinic, get in touch with dental practice management consultants in your area to find a teledentistry setup that is right for you.