It may be that no event in recent history has had such a profound impact on how we live as the pandemic has. Every element of our lives was affected by it, often negatively. However, through this tragedy, we have come to learn some valuable lessons. Masking helps reduce airborne illnesses of all kinds, working from home is viable and cost-saving, and teledentistry is effective and versatile. The need to prevent the spread of the virus through social distancing made traditional visits challenging. Thankfully, new approaches were created to overcome this concern.
The Teledentistry Revolution In Orthodontic Care
Teledental options started cropping up at many dental offices as the pandemic wore on. The approaches varied as this field of care began expanding rapidly. Phone calls and video calling were approaches that worked in the beginning. Remote check-ups were also being performed, and teleorthodontic options were being explored. One approach to teleorthodontics involved sending the patient a mail-in dental impression kit. These kits made it possible for patients to take dental impressions in their own homes on their own. These kits would be returned to the office and evaluated by the dentist. They would then send these kits off to the dental lab to make the needed orthodontic appliance.
Teledentistry provides significant benefits to everyone involved, including:
- The need to visit the office was reduced
- Appointment times could be more flexible
- Infection spread was reduced by reducing patient contact
- Dental visits took less time overall
- Commute times were utterly eliminated
Sometimes it would be necessary to resort to traditional approaches to dentistry. One example is when an x-ray was needed to identify the source of dental pain or other health concerns. This could happen prior to the visit or due to something being seen in the impression the dentist received. In the majority of cases, this direct contact won’t be needed when being fitted. However, this approach is somewhat limited to clear aligners. Traditional braces will still require an initial office visit to get them applied.
However, your dentist can do the follow-ups remotely following this initial visit. This serves to save everyone involved time and inconvenience. It also helps prevent exposure and limit the time needed to prep rooms for patient visits. This means that there is less preparatory time between visits and more time to see additional patients. Even as the pandemic is winding down, the teledental/teleorthodontic approach is being applied at more clinics every year.
Speak To Your Dentist About Your Teledental Options
While teledentistry is becoming more universally available, the exact services offered will vary from clinic to clinic. Communicating with your dental provider is the best way to determine what forms of teledental care are available to you. It may also be pertinent to ask your insurance company about teledental care and what they cover. While coverage is improving as telemedicine approaches see greater acceptance, policies differ from one insurance provider to the next.