New Survey Shows 78% of Patients Are Optimistic About Virtual Dental Care

It seems that patients these days are quite optimistic about the use of virtual care through telehealth services. A recent survey by DentaVox shows 78% of patients believe that virtual dental care can be useful, and they are prone to use these services in the next five years. The survey addresses patient opinions on virtual dental care as well as follow-up care and education. Patients no longer see teledentistry as a niche for remote villages. However, the new approach has its pros and cons, and many dental professionals doubt its reliability.

The availability of these services is crucial to encourage their use – 60 percent of the patients surveyed say this is a key factor. The demand for virtual dental care is a reality even in urban areas where many believe that virtual dental care can promote healthy behaviors and educate people more on how to prevent oral diseases. Teledentistry can essentially address both diagnosis and risk management.

According to the survey, virtual dental care can promote healthier behaviors and inform individuals about the prevention of common oral diseases. Survey participants, for the most part, believe that diagnosis, as well as risk management, can be addressed effectively by teledentistry.

Recent academic research supports this view. A study performed in Australia, for example, shows that cavities can be detected with smartphone cameras and imaging apps. So, as teledentistry becomes more common, chances are more patients will make good use of it. The survey found out that 42% of respondents believe teledentistry may be beneficial to everyone.

Some specific groups may benefit more from this type of service – for example, working people. In other words, it’s clear that distant communities are not the only ones that will take advantage of these services. The survey also found out that virtual dental care would benefit individuals and children with disabilities. As more people become open to the use of telehealth services, doctors and other providers will also have the chance to boost their telemedicine programs.

Health apps allow patients to ask questions they may have about their oral care, set appointments, and schedule emergency visits. These and other opportunities open a window to better oral health. Nearly 7 million people every year need access to urgent dental care. The average person in the United States has not been to the dentist in three years, which makes these problems even worse.

But providing dental care to patients without enough diagnostic can lead to serious patient harm. Currently, many states believe that face-to-face exams are more beneficial than online dental services, and they are banning telehealth platforms for contact lenses and eye exams.  In California, for example, teledentistry and orthodontic services must obtain verbal or written permission to use telehealth and examine a patient’s dental x-rays before treatment.

No matter what happens in the future, dental care should continue to meet reliable standards of care. Meanwhile, most patients are willing to embrace virtual dental care because it sounds good and it’s trending. No doubt remote teledentistry can open new horizons, but many professionals believe it has limited usefulness when it comes to dental treatment – some of them have even tried this approach with very limited success.

Sources
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30134778

  • https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/78-of-patients-likely-to-use-virtual-dental-care-survey-finds

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