Dental clinics all over the country had to close their doors to patients on March 23rd, because the government considered the nature of the profession high risk when coronavirus first hit – so many non-emergency facilities around England were forced to close.
One way of working that has gained increasing traction over the last few months, however, is teledentistry, allowing practices to continue helping their patients even if they can’t make appointments and see the dentist in person.
In an article for Dentistry, Dr Zuber Bagasi of Synergy Dental Group explains how the clinic was able to use technology to its advantage since March, supporting non-registered urgent patients through e-consultation triaging.
Its main priority was to keep patients and members of the public informed, helping to reduce anxiety by providing advice. A big emphasis was put on ensuring that social media channels such as Facebook, TikTok and Instagram were kept active as this really helped keep people engaged with the clinic and their personal dental health.
This served as a direct channel to patients, so they could read essential updates about clinic closures and other announcements. The team dedicated itself to running an exclusively online service for those who needed immediate advice, as well as setting up an online triage service.
Patients are now able to communicate via video link through the platform, making appointments online. Dental surgeons are scheduled to support online consultations, with a personalised treatment report then sent out to patients, supported with e-consultation followups.
Similarly, Dr Neel Barchha recently spoke to the news source about the future of teeth and where teledentistry fits into it all, suggesting that there could even be drones used to help administer dental care!
He said teledentistry has now “come of age” as a result of the pandemic, with client appointments done using Facebook’s new portal devices, team meetings carried out using Google Hangouts, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, webinars now a normal way of working and so on.
Digital dentistry is “growing in leaps and bounds” right now, Dr Barchha went on to say, with smartwatches able to detect medical abnormalities and private dental services now able to send patients an intra-oral camera to connect to their phone so checkups can be done remotely.
“How long before our toothbrushes can detect blood products and schedule hygiene appointments automatically over Google Assistant? Could it send off an order for chlorhexidine, which could be drone delivered to your house from a local supplier within minutes?” he added.
This technology already exists and all that’s now required is someone to piece it together, so this kind of teledentistry innovation may well very soon be a reality.
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