Teledentistry services have grown tremendously in the last few years, with more than 3 million patients already taking advantage of this evolving dental service. Teledentistry (sometimes referred to as online dental care or virtual dentistry) gives patients the ability to receive dental consultation, select dental treatments, and oral health care support remotely. Teledentistry has grown into an impressive industry over the past few years, along with the broader telehealth field in general. Today, we'll look at six of the key benefits of online teledentistry and how patients can benefit from it.
Teledentistry Provides Convenience for Patients
Perhaps the most significant benefit the millions using teledentistry service enjoy is the convenience it offers. Talking to a dentist from your hometown or from other remote locations is a tremendous time-saver for many patients. Dental professionals can address many questions and concerns without the need for an in-person visit.
Online dentists can provide:
- Feedback regarding ongoing care routines
- Monitoring to assess the progress of past treatments
- Answers to questions about pain or other dental issues
With remote visits, patients don’t waste time traveling to the office and waiting for routine procedures. And with fewer patients in the office, dentists are freed up to be more flexible with scheduling in-person appointments that do require an office visit. This type of flexibility ultimately means that even if you need to go into the dental office, you'll have an easier time getting an appointment that fits your schedule.
Services such as online or over-the-phone medication prescription and guidance for in-home orthodontics are other time-savers patients recognize as an added convenience. These types of teledentistry services have grown increasingly popular in the last few years, and many consumers have taken note. Reducing trips to the dentist or orthodontist saves patients countless hours and conveniently fits into a busy schedule.
While convenience is likely to top the list for many, several other aspects drive this industry's popularity.
Teledentistry Can Lower Health Care Costs for Dental Patients
Teledentistry has also been shown to reduce the overall cost of care. Affordable dental care is something nearly every patient is looking for, especially as healthcare costs overall continue to rise.
In many cases, virtual dental visits are cheaper than a visit to the dentist’s office. They also help patients keep up with their preventative care, which means less severe and costly procedures. Most serious oral issues are preventable, and regular check-ins with your dentist can help prevent or minimize these issues. Dental surgery can get very expensive, so maintaining a regular check-up schedule is key to keeping costs low.
Dentists also see the cost savings, which means they can still be profitable even at reduced prices. They can then pass these savings on to the patients, which is a win for both parties.
Many insurance companies are also starting to offer coverage for specific teledentistry procedures. Depending on your carrier, many teledentistry services might come at little to no cost to you. As the popularity of online dental services increases, we'll likely see more carriers coming on board to cover teledentistry.
Patients Have a Broader Range of Access to Online Dental Professionals
Teledenstriy also makes it possible to get advice from dental professionals that may have otherwise been unobtainable. Access to experts means things such as getting a second opinion from an expert is easier than ever before. Patients aren't as limited by geography and can seek advice that would otherwise be out of reach.
For those who work non-standard hours, this is also very important. Access to medical professionals is no longer constrained by time, so scheduling before or after traditional office hours is a real possibility.
It also means that millions of Americans who live in rural locations without easy access to a dentist can receive primary dental care. Preventative care is a crucial part of overall oral health, so having more convenient access to a dental professional is key to maintaining a healthy mouth.
Teledentistry Provides a High Quality of Care to Patients
A big concern that many patients have about teledentistry is its degree of safety. The good news is, studies have shown that teledentistry’s standards of care and safety are comparable to those of an office visit.
On top of that, many governments have begun to put laws on the books surrounding telehealth and teledentistry. These new laws certainly address the safety and quality of care, but also help to protect patients’ privacy by requiring that certain protocols are followed.
Patients Have Easier Access to Emergency Services
Another big win for patients is more available access to care and consultation in the event of a dental emergency. When an emergency happens, many people's first instinct is to panic. In some cases, they might miss essential steps for the best possible outcome, or underestimate how serious the issue is. In either case, teledentistry services can help get patients the medical advice they need — immediately, and (most of the time) without having to visit the ER.
Teledentistry Has Many Benefits
It's easy to see that the benefits of teledentistry are numerous and very attractive to patients. As more people begin taking advantage of teledentistry offerings and discovering its ability to not only save time but also money, the movement is certainly likely to grow. In fact, a 2019 study found that 78% percent of people plan to use teledentistry in the coming years, making it seem as though teledentistry is something we will be seeing a lot more of as we seek quality oral care.