The future of teledentistry & how to incorporate it into practices, per 2 dentists

Though teledentistry use isn't as high as it was when the pandemic began, it will be a critical part of dentistry moving forward, two dentists told the American Dental Association.

According to an ADA Health Policy Institute poll, 24.8 percent of dentists said they were conducting remote evaluations for the week of April 20. By July 13, that dropped to 12.2 percent, but teledentistry consultant Nathan Suter, DDS, believes the use will become more mainstream. New dentists in particular will promote the trend, since dental school coursework closely resembles teledentistry, said Dr. Suter.

Brooke Fukuoka, DMD, owner of Jerome, Idaho-based Your Special Smiles, provides dental care to adults with disabilities and seniors with limited mobility. She said teledentistry has become key to treatment. In-person hygienists offer mobile hygiene services and collect photos, videos and X-rays for Dr. Fukuoka to evaluate to see if she needs to go to the facilities. Amid the pandemic, Dr. Fukuoka and her staff use teledentistry to monitor patients' oral health and guide caregivers providing preventive oral hygiene services.

For new dentists wanting to incorporate teledentistry, Dr. Suter recommends starting with a small pilot. Dentists should use teledentistry initially only for part of the day or with some of their staff, and then make technology and workflow adjustments accordingly.

"Teledentistry is not as complicated as it sounds, and it has many uses," Dr. Fukuoka said. "Find the use that fits your and your patients' needs."

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