Over the past couple of years, we’ve learned that all kinds of jobs can be done remotely — including dentistry!
That’s right. With teledentistry, you can get your teeth checked from the comfort of your own home.
Virtual dentistry, or teledentistry, involves meeting with a dentist via video chat and having your teeth examined virtually. This allows the dentist to assess your oral health, understand your symptoms, and determine whether or not you need to schedule an in-person appointment.
You might be surprised to know that some of the earliest uses of virtual dentistry date back to the early 1990s. The United States Department of Defense created a teledentistry program designed to improve patient care and communication between dentists and labs.
Virtual dentistry has also been used in Canada for several years as a public health tool. It has expanded patient education, improved accessibility to dental exams, and minimized costs for low-income individuals.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, teledentistry became much more popular among private dental practices throughout Canada. This service allowed dentists to keep their businesses — which were deemed nonessential — open. It also allowed patients to keep up with their biannual check-ups without having to worry about exposing themselves to germs.
A recent study on teledentistry surveyed 52 virtual patients and asked about their experience. Of those surveyed, more than 90 percent of them agreed that the approach was beneficial and they were willing to use it again.
Teledentistry offers a variety of perks that in-person dentist appointments cannot, including the following:
For many Canadians, getting to the dentist for an in-person appointment is not easy. Those who do not live close to a dentist or don’t have access to reliable transportation may have a hard time getting in for regular check-ups.
It may also be hard to find or schedule appointments with dentists for kids if you don’t live near one or don’t have a way to get to their office.
Teledentistry increases access to care and helps everyone to visit the dentist.
Teledentistry isn’t just for exams and consultations. It’s also a powerful education tool.
A mere 37.5 percent of Canadians brush their teeth twice per day and floss at least once per day.
Clearly, there are gaps in dental education throughout the country. Teledentistry can help to fill those gaps in a convenient and low-stress way.
The same study linked above revealed that 22.4 percent of Canadians avoided going to the dentist because they couldn’t afford the dentist appointment cost.
Virtual appointments are less expensive for dentists — partly because they don’t have to worry about the cost of supplies or office time. This means they’re less expensive for patients.
Some dentists also offer free virtual consultations for first-time patients.
Between 48 and almost 60 percent of Canadians experience some form of dental anxiety or extreme dental fear.
For some, this fear is so intense that they cancel their appointments or avoid making them in the first place.
Virtual appointments can be less intimidating and help anxious patients stay calm while getting their teeth examined.
The average dentist appointment time typically lasts about an hour — not including the time it takes to travel to and from the dentist’s office, time spent in the waiting room, etc.
For busy individuals, virtual appointments are a lifesaver. They allow you to get seen quickly, get answers to your questions, and move on with your day.
You might be more interested in scheduling a virtual dental appointment for yourself or a loved one. If this is the case, here are some tips to help you prepare:
Find a quiet, private space where you can sit down uninterrupted with a smartphone, tablet, or computer for your appointment. Make sure you have a strong internet connection, too.
Before your virtual dental appointment, you’ll likely need to fill out some paperwork and provide the dentist with basic information. This includes contact information, details about past dental work, and a list of questions or concerns you want to address during the appointment.
After you’ve taken the steps discussed above, you’ll log in to your dentist’s virtual waiting room and wait for them to show up. Most people only have to wait a few minutes before they begin their appointment.
If you’re still on the fence about virtual dental appointments for you or a loved one, consider the answers to the following questions:
Am I part of a vulnerable population (elderly, immunocompromised, etc.)?
Am I worried about the cost of a traditional dental appointment?
Am I short on time and unable to fit a traditional appointment into my schedule?
Have I been putting off routine care because I’m afraid of sitting in the dentist’s chair?
Do I live far away from a dentist’s office with no way to get there in person?
If you said “yes” to any of these questions, it might be a good idea to schedule a virtual appointment. This will help you learn more about your symptoms (if you have any) and the condition of your teeth. You and your dentist can decide if you need to move forward with an in-person visit.
For those who can’t make it to the dentist easily or need to stay home as much as possible to avoid illness, a virtual dentist appointment can be a great alternative.
Are you interested in giving teledentistry a try? Contact us at Maple Dental Health today to set up a virtual consultation.