It’s a fact of life that many services in larger cities are not as accessible to those in more rural locations. Healthcare is an area that often has significant disparities in quality and access between urban and rural areas. One aspect of healthcare that is often overlooked is dental care, and many Americans in more rural locations neglect to visit a dentist as often as they should. Fortunately, recent advances in technology have made it possible for residents of even the most remote areas to visit a dentist. Teledentistry is changing how rural residents positively access their dental care and make it more accessible than ever before.
Why Should Teledentistry Matter to Rural Patients?
Loosely speaking, teledensity encompasses the range of technologies to administer dental care remotely. This remote access to care is essential for rural patients, and may include:
- Video or voice calls with a dentist to make dental care more convenient
- Remote monitoring of oral procedures like braces to avoid traveling
- Medication prescription for oral issues
These are just a few of the more popular services rural patients will value for their part in making dental care more accessible and convenient to those who might not otherwise have easy access to it.
Teledentistry Benefits for Rural Patients
So, why use teledentistry? Well, rural residents are poised to benefit the most from the variety of teledental services offered. Most benefits focus on convenience, but with teledentistry, rural patients also have greater access to dental experts.
Rural Teledentistry Provides Patients Quick Access to Routine Dental Services
One of the biggest draws for those living in rural locations is the ability to have a completely virtual dental appointment. Many people live far away from any dental office; teledentistry provides them with the ability to book an appointment that’s convenient for them.
Several teledentistry services aim to provide virtual appointments through video chat software. Online dental consultations allow rural patients to meet with their dentist without spending excessive amounts of time traveling. Less travel time is especially beneficial for routine visits or when a simple prescription is all that would be needed.
Teledentistry Gives Rural Patients Access to Prescriptions and Other Dental Support
Lastly, teledentistry offers access to certain services to save rural patients time and unnecessary travel. Take for example the opportunity to have your dentist prescribe you medication, without having to travel to the dentist’s office.
At-home orthodontics is another service that is well supported by teledentistry. Instead of simply having supplies for teeth straightening sent to your home, teledentistry offers your dentist the opportunity to monitor your care — without having to make frequent trips to the dentist.
Many of these companies offer longterm plans and will periodically check up digitally and send the next set of aligners right to a patient’s home. They can save patients tons of times as there is no need to schedule many appointments throughout the process. They can also bring a service that might not exist in certain areas to the people that live there.
Remote Teledentistry Allows Rural Patients to Get Feedback From Qualified Dentists
Another teledentistry benefit for rural patients is the ability to consult with remote dentists. Teledentistry removes the need for geographical proximity, giving patients more healthcare options. For example, a patient might want to get a second opinion about an issue from a dental specialist. While this may have seemed impossible before, with teledentistry, it becomes a real option. Patients can find the best care available, and make more informed decisions.
Teledentistry is convenient for patients and gives rural patients more control over their oral health by connecting rural communities with dentists
Online Dental Consultations Give Rural Patients Options During an Emergency
Emergency services are another great benefit to rural patients. Being able to hop on a call with a dentist immediately after an emergency can provide great peace of mind as well as make sure you are treating the emergency in the best way possible. Having immediate access to a dentist can help patients get instant feedback, but they can also help instruct patients on proper care to minimize any damage caused.
Rural Teledentistry Benefits More People
With the services offered through teledentistry continuing to expand, more people in rural areas can visit their dentist — without even leaving their homes. The convenience, and removing the need to travel sometimes hours to receive care are benefits that cannot be understated. Understandably, millions of Americans are already taking advantage of the growth in teledentistry technology (especially in rural areas) and will continue to do so for years to come.