A white paper from CareQuest Institute for Oral Health explains how teledentistry can improve the health of Americans while saving money by delivering care and education more quickly and efficiently.
Millions of Americans, particularly in rural areas, have inadequate access to dental care. And when people have inadequate dental care, numerous studies show, their overall health declines. Further, people who lack access to dental care are more likely to eventually experience a severe dental problem that brings them to a hospital emergency department (ED), where treatment is expensive and usually fails to address the underlying cause.
Telehealth, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, can play a large role in closing the gaps in access to dental care. And with more than 56 million Americans residing in areas with a shortage of dental professionals, it’s time to fully tap the potential that teledentistry offers to improve access to care.
The paper explores several topics, including the impact of not receiving care, trends and positive developments in teledentistry, and the opportunities and potential cost savings states can seize by embracing the technology. It offers several summary points:
- Many Americans aren’t getting the dental care they need, and crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate these access gaps.
- Teledentistry helps close the gap in access to dental services and can save money for states and consumers.
- Teledentistry and other telehealth initiatives can create and preserve jobs, especially in rural areas.
- States should take steps now to address barriers to teledentistry.
By helping teledentistry grow, states can improve their residents’ oral health and overall health, reaching people earlier in the disease cycle — managing or treating conditions before they deteriorate into serious infections that require expensive care, cause school or workplace absences and potentially threaten lives.
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Teledentistry: Providing Access to Care During the COVID-19 Crisis explores how providers can use telehealth to consult with patients, triage their needs and offer limited urgent services, deterring those with nontraumatic dental conditions from seeking care in emergency departments.
Patients Give High Marks to Their Teledentistry Experience highlights findings from a survey that shows of patients valued the option of teledentistry and that a clear majority who received it were pleased with their experience.