When you think of your daily work as a dental hygienist, you probably envision yourself moving from patient to patient, scaling teeth, assessing disease, exposing radiographs, educating on oral health, and otherwise preparing patients for a doctor exam. But, there is a new way dentists are conducting business. It’s called Teledentistry. Think of teledentistry as a high-tech way for patients to get the care they need from professionals in the field of dentistry. Discover exactly what teledentistry is and how you fit into this new technology as a dental hygienist.
What is Teledentistry?
Teledentistry uses technology to provide patients with dental care without visiting a physical office. A patient takes a photo or video of a sore or aching tooth and shares it with a dentist from a remote location. The dentist examines the video or photo to determine the problem with the tooth. Next, he or she prescribes medication to help with the discomfort caused by the tooth until it heals or until the person can visit the physical office for a closer examination. That is just one example of how teledentistry is used. In this scenario, a dental hygienist would help gather information from the patient, so the dentist has as much data as he or she needs to make a diagnosis.
Why Should Dental Professionals Use Teledentistry?
Dental hygienists use teledentistry to save patients an unnecessary trip to the physical office. Maybe a patient’s toothache or another issue can easily be solved with an over-the-counter remedy recommended by the dentist.
Another reason why dental professionals use teledentistry is it can help patients get relief from soreness or pain immediately. If the patient is unable to travel to the physical office, the dentist may be able to prescribe medication or antibiotics which can help the person find palliative relief from an abscess or a toothache until they can make it into the office for a follow-up exam.
The Expansion of Teledentistry
Teledentistry can be used to encourage more people to receive dental check-ups. Many people put off going to the dentist until they have a problem. Receiving dental care without having to visit an office appeals to the lifestyle of many people. Plus, those who have a fear of the dentist can receive dental care without having to be in an environment that makes them uneasy.
The Main Benefits of Teledentistry
One of the benefits of the expansion of teledentistry is it opens the door to new jobs in the dental field. The records of patients, appointment details, and prescription lists all need to be organized and kept secure by a professional in the dentist’s office. Also, developers of new technology will be needed to improve the patient/dentist experience during a teledentistry visit. Most importantly, when more people take advantage of this type of dental care, it boosts the job security of qualified dental hygienists.
Another benefit of teledentistry is increasing the availability of dental care to underserved communities. People who don’t have access to transportation or a physical dental office can receive dental care via teledentistry.
Teledentistry allows busy dentists and dental hygienists to focus on patients with severe dental problems while they are in the office. While someone with a mild dental issue can get treatment quickly via a teledentistry appointment, a person who needs a root canal can be seen right away in office due to fewer patients waiting for attention.
The tools and technology of teledentistry are improving every year. Teledentistry has just recently gained the attention of the medical community, and it has already opened the doors to new ideas and advancements in the dental industry.