In this age of Covid 19, accessibility and efficiency in the landscape of health services have changed dramatically. Health services have had to scramble to find ways to address the widening gap that Covid-19 has brought to the already limited access to health care. Telehealth is not a new concept but has gained immense traction in the past couple of years. It refers to health care services including consultations and diagnostic services using information technology and communication services to carry out expedient and efficient patient care.
The rapid spread of Covid 19 in early 2020 severely impacted dental care access to most patients but especially to those in remote and rural areas with limited health care options.
In-person dental consultations saw a sharp decline, and the American Dental Association (ADA) directed dental specialists to prioritize urgent care only and delay elective dental procedures and routine consultations and checkups.
Tele-dentistry addresses the inequities in inpatient care by improving access to dental care information, setting up quick dental appointments when needed and increasing patient satisfaction with the overall process.
Dental appointments are carried out via the internet over various platforms, which makes it all the more accessible, cost-efficient and saves the patient a lot of anxiety that is associated with a visit to the dentist. It is also, naturally, Covid- 19 SOP-compliant as both the dentist specialist and the patient are at risk for exposure during in-person consultations. But what does the process of an online dentist appointment look like?
Teledentistry is carried out in several different modalities (synchronous, non-synchronous, remote patient monitoring and mobile health) and for quick and urgent care, people are now able to request an immediate appointment with a specialist who is trained to deal with the specific needs of the patients.
While social media and over-the-internet communication methods have taken over the world due to their accessibility, some patients might not have enough information on how to set up a virtual consultation with a dentist specialist. There are several ways to do it, but if there’s an issue of urgency in dental care, one of the top ways to do it would be to sign up to a Teledentist service and request an urgent appointment. The process is easy and seamless, designed in a user-friendly manner. The appointment to consultation process may entail these following things:
The website or app may require you to sign up for its services, which is easy if you have an email address. The website may ask you for general information about your particulars (stuff that usually goes on the form that you fill while visiting a doctor), but in this case, this information will be retained for future visits and consultations.
Some services will also accommodate you for a quick appointment with a specialist even without insurance and you won’t have to wait an eternity to consult with a doctor. You will also fill out the information about what ails you so that the service can match you with the best possible specialist for your concern. The sign-up process will take 10 minutes and will book you a quick appointment.
You might need to wait a few minutes for the service to set you up with a specialist, sometimes for as little as 5 to 10 minutes.
In a synchronous (ADA code D9995) consultation session a live two-way communication using communication technology, either via audio or video, will be carried out between the patient and the dentist specialist. This allows the dentist to make an informed evaluation and a quick diagnosis, which will help the patient avoid an unnecessary visit to the hospital.
Even in serious cases like root canal treatment or root exposure, the doctor will help you address the severe pain with immediate medication that may help alleviate the pain until you can visit a specialist in person. You won’t have to wait for hours in the emergency rooms in severe and debilitating pain. Instead, you will have immediate access to a dental specialist.
With dentists with specialities ranging from an oral/general pathologist to an endodontist, from a pedodontist to an orthodontist, patients will have access to every dental specialist under the sun, treating a myriad of issues related to oral health and hygiene to surgical diagnoses.
Dental health issues are of a wide variety, and teledentistry can address and offer consultation for all of them, although in some cases the doctor may refer you for an in-person visit with the dentist. Some of the common issues that teledentistry can help address include severe toothaches, provide evaluation for possible tooth infection or exposed root, diagnose and start the process for a broken tooth and set up an in-person appointment for later.
Teledentistry not only widens the patient care radius for dentists but also helps bring competitive dental services right to the door of the patient. A lot of dentists realise that most patients delay going to a dental specialist simply because of two reasons; finances and lack of time. The thought of undergoing dental procedures is also haunting for many who cite this as the main reason for stalling a visit to a dental specialist even when they are in pain.
Teledentistry addresses all of these issues, it’s time and cost-efficient, and it allows the patient access to care from the comfort of their home. Although the field is relatively nascent, it has huge potential and an endless possibility of care.