Teledentistry can be integrated in general dental practice and specialty practices. Like telemedicine, teledentistry can provide different types of programs and services for the patient.
Potential Benefits of Teledentistry
Teledentistry offers innovative prospects in the delivery of dental care and has the potential to enhance the current practice of dentistry. However, teledentistry has been underused as a means of diagnosis and referral in dentistry. Through the exchange of clinical information over distances, teledentistry can facilitate the delivery of dental care in areas underserved by dental practitioners, and therefore overcome social and geographic barriers. A greater number of patients can be assessed and treated.
Teledentistry has the potential to achieve the three fundamental benefits of telehealth and telemedicine:
• Improved access – For over 40 years, telemedicine has brought healthcare services to patients in distant locations improving access and allowing physicians and health facilities expand their reach.
• Cost efficiencies – Adopting telehealth and telemedicine technologies have shown to reduce the cost of healthcare and increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, shared health professional staffing, reduced travel times, and fewer or shorter hospital stays.
• Patient demand – The greatest impact of telemedicine is on the patient, their family and their community. More than 15 years of studies have documented patients’ satisfaction and support for telemedical services that offer access to providers and reduce the need to travel long distances.
Teledentistry has the ability to improve access to care, improve the delivery of health care, and lower its costs. Teledentistry can be a much needed resource for dental consulting, referral for specialized care, dental mentoring, dentist-laboratory communications, and continuing education.