What is teledentistry?

Dentistry is changing at a faster rate than it ever has in the past. Telecommunications and information technology is transforming the way dentists connect to their patients. Teledentistry will take this one step further, allowing dentists to provide real, meaningful services to patients remotely.

Teledentistry has been defined as “the remote provision of dental care, advice or treatment through the medium of information technology, rather than through direct personal contact with the patient(s) involved.” Like many game-changing scientific advances, teledental technology was debuted in the military.

In 1994, the Department of Defence introduced the Total Dental Access Program (TDA) for the Army. The goals of TDA were to increase soldier’s access to care and reduce associated costs. They used what they called the plain-old-telephone-system (POTS). In principle, teledentistry had begun, but technology wasn’t in a position to support it. What was cutting-edge teledentistry in the early nineteen nineties: videoconferencing, e-mail, fax, and telephone calls, are second nature to us now. So much so, that mediums like fax seem like quaint old anachronisms compared to the hi-tech of today.

Since then the telecommunications industry has gone through an incredible revolution. Email, video conferencing and high-quality image transfer have all become second nature to us. This, coupled with an equally incredible boom in digital camera technology, has opened the door for exciting new telehealth applications. Already, millions of patients are using telemedicine services, and teledentistry technologies are making real progress.

Nearly half of all Americans haven’t attended a dentist in the last twelve months. There are many reasons for this, most notably; affordability, access and fear. Teledentistry will provide these patients with an easier, cheaper and less intimidating way to connect with dentistry. This will provide a new link in the chain of comprehensive dental healthcare, and could bring millions of people back into regular care.

OralEye is a tech startup developing patient facing teledentistry software for smartphones. We are passionate about the potential of teledentistry to improve the healthcare of millions of people in the US. We are starting this blog to contribute to the growing conversation around these technologies. If you are interested in contributing, or joining our network of over 200 dentists, head over to oraleye.com or contact us at network@oraleye.com.

Colm Summers

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