The Impact of Teledentistry on Home Teeth Straightening

The Impact of Teledentistry on Home Teeth Straightening
The Impact of Teledentistry on Home Teeth Straightening Pixabay

Transformations in the way things are done due to advancements in computer and telecommunication technology affect every aspect of our lives, including how we seek medical care. Teledentistry falls under telehealth, and it allows a patient to reach out to a dentist from a distance for a diagnosis, advice, or treatment.

Orthodontics is one area of dentistry that has benefited immensely from advancements in teledentistry. One of the earlier benefits of teledentistry was the ability for people in remote areas or those with disabilities to have access to a dentist. Recently, the need for social distancing was added to its benefits. Teledentistry has also helped countless patients seeking teeth straightening treatments who prefer less-frequent dental office visits.

Virtual check-ups may have positive economic benefits for orthodontists because they decrease the need for in-office visits, allowing them the time to consult with more patients. However, research also indicates that success rates and the quality of care were similar for patients seeking telemedicine and those that visit a dentist in-office. In this study from the UK, positive reviews were given by the majority of participants who used teledentistry consultations at one clinic. Despite using teledentistry to abide by social distancing, the majority indicated they would use the system again because it saved them time.

Teledentistry is proving particularly valuable for seeking a diagnosis, monitoring, aligning, evaluating, and guiding patients with minor emergencies, including with their teeth straightening devices.

Dental Industry Embraces Innovation

Telehealth is not a new idea, according to the Institute of Medicine. In an attempt to reduce unnecessary visits, medical practitioners started encouraging telephonic consultations in 1879. Today telehealth has changed, becoming more sophisticated, and the numbers prove that it has been embraced by millions of people in the US and elsewhere.

By the end of 2020, the CDC reported an increase of 154% in telehealth visits for the year ending March 2020.

Teledentistry Communication Tools

Virtual communication technology in orthodontics includes live chats, uploads of scans or photos, and assisted treatment monitoring using artificial intelligence (AI) where patients send videos of photos for assessment.

All the above tools allow dentists and orthodontists to provide dental care and patient support. This includes initial consultations, diagnosis, treatment, and passing on information to a specialist if required. Communication tools are also an effective means to educate patients about dental care, while augmented reality (AR) has the potential to help dental students learn about dental procedures remotely.

Beneficial Applications of Teledentistry

One of the most popular teledentistry applications is oral examinations. The dentist does a virtual examination of the patient, either in real-time or from a forwarded photo or scan.

The dentist can then prescribe the medication required for infection or pain, without the patient having to leave their home or office.

Remote pre-surgery screenings are another way teledentistry is convenient for patients (especially those living in rural areas) and dentists. According to the American Teledentistry Association, of the time taken off work to see a dentist, only 17% is spent in the consultation, the rest is needed to get there and back.

Teledentistry allows patients to work with a broader range of dentists, making it easier for them to get a second opinion or advice, even from dentists in other geographical areas.

Preventative oral care is important for preserving teeth, and dentists can offer this service remotely, especially to children. Teledentistry appears to be an effective tool for teaching dental care to patients.

Often patients are faced with a dental emergency but don’t have immediate access to a dentist. Teledentistry provides them with immediate access to a dental professional who can monitor the situation by offering input and advice on how the patient can seek treatment.

Finally, teledentistry is proving to be a popular service for people looking for teeth straightening treatments. Depending on the type of malocclusions and overbite issues, not everybody requires traditional braces or Invisalign to get a perfect smile. Clear aligners offer a discreet way for more teenagers and adults to straighten their teeth. At-home orthodontics use teledentistry consultations to help them achieve this.

All these applications make teledentistry very beneficial for patients and dentists, but patients still need to visit dentists in serious cases to help prevent serious complications.

At-home Teeth Straightening

There appear to be several benefits to at-home teeth straightening, including convenience, lower cost, and saving time on consultations. Several companies offer these convenient at-home orthodontic treatment kits. After an initial consultation either at a physical location or remotely, a treatment plan is worked out by an orthodontist or dentist.

The clear aligners for each treatment are different, and once the custom-made kit is prepared, the kit is shipped to the customer’s door. Included are instructions on how the aligners must be worn, there are prescribed hours daily and sets are changed approximately every two weeks until the treatment is completed.

Teledentistry offers the convenience of remote check ups throughout the process. A post-orthodontics remote evaluation is also done on completion of the treatment. At this consultation, the patient is also advised on the use of a retainer, usually required after all teeth straightening treatments.

Several companies are currently selling at-home clear aligners, including Byte, Candid, SmileDirectClub, AlignerCo, and NewSmile. Besides being much cheaper than in-office teeth straightening treatments, they all appear to straighten teeth faster. 

Suggested resource:

Smile Prep is an authoritative reviewer of teeth straightening treatments, making it easier for interested customers to compare home teeth straightening kits.

Video from Smile Prep:

Conclusion

Teledentistry has had a positive impact on dentists and orthodontists, allowing them to work remotely with more patients than they could see in-office. For patients, the implications of teledentistry include easy access to a dentist for those living in remote areas, time-saving benefits (since they don’t need to leave work or home), and cost-effectiveness.

Just like telehealth, the applications of teledentistry are mostly for offering primary care and the management of chronic conditions. However, one area that is proving particularly successful is the increasing demand for at-home teeth straightening treatments.

Not all patients benefit from teledentistry because some problems still require in-office visits. However, teledentistry offers quality care and makes in-office appointments accessible to those who really need them.

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