Today, many rural areas are growing smaller by the year, and with the economic demands for high-paying jobs, orthodontists graduating with six-figure debts find that practicing in rural areas will often lead to less money. But orthodontic care is a medically necessary service, as orthodontic conditions such as cleft palates need orthodontic treatment to enhance physical and psychological health. Many counties throughout the United States, however, often have less access to this form of healthcare, and to combat this issue, teledentistry presents new opportunities to help expand on these services and provide more access to orthodontic care.
The Benefits of Teledentistry For Treatment
Teledentistry can ease the gap between orthodontic practices and low-income rural communities by reshaping the relationship through a digital medium. Telemedicine helps eliminate the need for long-distance travel and extra expenses by providing easier methods of communication, either through text, video calls, or email rather than in person. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, teledentistry has played a vital role in emergency responses and has significantly decreased the number of outbreaks over the course of the 2020-2021 year. Ultimately, teledentistry has been able to improve access and delivery while lowering oral healthcare costs for rural communities and thus eliminating the disparities.
When compared to the majority of telemedicine approaches, teledentistry can appear to be limited in its scope, especially regarding the in-depth approaches that orthodontists and other dentists use to diagnose and treat conditions. However, using more advanced methods, teledentistry can be applied in multiple situations, including:
- Assisting in Diagnosis: Using photographs, radiographs, and other data information, many dentists can work with more in-depth materials to formulate a proper diagnosis for related tooth conditions.
- Immediate Temporary Care: For many general dentists, emergency situations revolving around tooth pain and other dental problems can be treated through prescribing medications and at-home care techniques until an in-person consultation can be made.
- Supplements Teaching Methods: For college students and graduates, learning through teledentistry methods can help supplement traditional teaching methods used to advance careers.
- Temporary Fixes To Orthodontic Problems: For broken brackets and loose wires, these issues can often be handled through tele-visits by advising temporary solutions. It also works to provide more access to orthodontists when general dentists work through teledentistry to create referrals for those in rural communities.
- Reducing Malocclusion in Children: As a preventative measure, parents can be guided by orthodontists for their child’s oral health, determine suitable treatment plans, and help provide more insight into at-home dental care for families in rural communities.
Through aiding in consultation, managing emergency situations, and avoiding follow-up visits, teledentistry in the orthodontic field provides significant benefits to those with limited access to care. While teledentistry presents limits, this method of communication can provide an in-between step for those requiring orthodontic care to receive it.
How Orthodontists Can Aid Patient’s Care
Currently, teledentistry is used in specific circumstances due to its limits in technology and application. However, as the field expands in the healthcare industry, orthodontists can ultimately use this form of communication as a connecting point between their practices and their communities. As the pandemic continues, it’s essential to remain diligent in protecting yourself and others, and because of its drastic impact on the dental community, teledentistry won’t be going anywhere soon.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need an orthodontist, then make sure to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If your practice offers telemedicine services, try them out and see for yourself what it can provide for you and your family today.