During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people opted to suspend their visits to the dentist as a precautionary measure. It’s understandable because, during that time, the entire medical community was struggling to fight the virus. However, after a year since the pandemic started, those same folks cannot simply put their dental health in the backburner anymore, even if the threat of COVID-19 is still present.
To ensure the safety of both dental practitioners and their patients, health authorities have directed clinics to adhere to the dental guidance by the CDC strictly. And one of the primary protocols that experts recommend is for dentists to offer online consultations.
Below are seven benefits of virtual consults in the dental industry.
- Reduced Risk of Viral Transmission
Face-to-face contact remains to be one of the key drivers of COVID-19 transmission. But people cannot merely ignore their need for dental care. Thus, the dental industry has come up with virtual consultations that address both the social distancing requirement and the patients’ need to see their dentists.
This practice lowers the risk of viral transmission for patients and dentists alike. According to Dr. Aaron Jeziorski, a Scottsdale Dentist, “Virtual consults have been key for our practices during the pandemic in keeping our staff and patients as safe as possible as government restrictions and new protections have been put in place in the dental industry.”
That said, a face-to-face consultation is still inevitable, especially for dental procedures such as tooth extraction, root canal, crown fitting, teeth whitening, and other orthodontic treatments. The dental industry sticks to stringent guidelines provided by proper health agencies to lower the risks for COVID-19 infection during such procedures. Proper handwashing, wearing PPEs, regular disinfection of tools and furniture, and other measures are strictly followed by dental industry professionals. For follow-ups, dentists recommend post-procedure check-ups to be conducted virtually to promote social distancing.
- Lower Dental Care Cost
According to a study, the high cost prevents 13% of working-age adults from seeking dental care. Indeed, skipping dental visits may reduce related costs now. But in the long run, dental neglect can drive costs higher due to procedures that have to be performed to address complications resulting from the patient’s failure to visit the dentist regularly. Since a remote consult is more affordable than a physical visit, it will hopefully encourage more people to connect with their dentists frequently.
Although dental fees for teledentistry may be lower, dentists can still earn a good income from their practice because of increased patient volume. Since it’s easier and faster to do remote consults than in-person check-ups, dentists can accommodate more patients even if they choose to keep their regular clinic hours.
- Longer Clinic Hours
Having extended clinic hours is one benefit of offering virtual consultations. Dentists can opt to entertain patients either earlier or later than the regular clinic hours. For dentists, longer clinical hours mean they can entertain more patients and earn more income. It can also benefit patients who don’t want to miss work for their dental appointments.
- Improved Access to Services
Even before the pandemic, some patients living in rural areas have limited access to healthcare services, both medical and dental. The long commute to the clinic is a big hindrance to regular visits to the dentist. For many, dental visits are such a big effort for teeth cleaning and check-up. Regrettably, people’s diminished desire to regularly show up at the dentist’s office may result in poor dental hygiene.
Virtual dental consultation addresses accessibility issues. Regardless of where the patients live, they can easily schedule a virtual appointment with their dentist as long as they have an internet connection. And if their dentist of choice is busy, it’s easy for patients to schedule virtual consults with other dentists even if they are from another town or city since distance and travel time are no longer an issue.
- Faster Assistance for Urgent and Emergency Cases
Patients who have swollen gums, locked jaws, or other serious dental problems can benefit from remote consultations because they don’t have to wait long to find an available dentist to look at their condition. In fact, they can access virtual dental care anytime, anywhere. It means patients can get faster assistance to address their problems.
With virtual consults, a dentist can assess a patient’s situation and provide prescriptions or recommendations even if they live miles away. And if a case is problematic, dentists can easily connect with other specialists virtually and seek assistance on what to do with their patients. It’s crucial, especially during the pandemic when people are having difficulties setting appointments with their dentists. The lockdowns meant it was typical for simple dental problems to exacerbate into something more severe by the time the dentist and the patient meet.
- Better Customer Care
Since dentists are more accessible through email or video calls, patients feel special and cared for. They appreciate that they can call, text, or message their dentists whenever they have questions about their prescribed medications. It’s especially true for those who have undergone invasive dental procedures.
Open communication also benefits dentists, especially after performing dental surgery. If patients can provide immediate feedback about symptoms or problems, the dentist can resolve them quickly or provide alternate dental care management, if needed. This type of interaction can prevent the aggravation of otherwise simple issues.
- Environment-Friendly Dental Practice
Even after this COVID-19 pandemic is over, virtual consultations are a good practice standard for the entire dental industry. For one thing, remote dentistry has a lower environmental impact. Just imagine how much gloves, paper towels, face masks, PPEs, water, electricity, and soap that each face-to-face dental visit can consume.
Many dentists started offering virtual consults to follow recommendations by the CDC. The main objective of this new health protocol is to prevent further transmission of the COVID-19 virus. But both patients and the dental industry are reaping the benefits of online consultation. Patients are happy with the remote setup because of improved accessibility, customer service, and affordable cost. In the same manner, dentists benefit from remote consults because they can accommodate more people, provide better services, and get immediate feedback from patients.