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What is Teledentistry?

By Manjari Bansal
With teledentistry, you receive dental care without visiting an office. Find out more about how teledentistry works and the efficacy of remotely-managed clear aligners.

Teledentistry is the use of communication technology, including audio and video interaction, to remotely provide dental care services such as consultation, diagnosis, and patient education, according to the American Teledentistry Association. Learn more about the different ways teledentistry provides dental care and its potential role in clear aligner treatment.

How Teledentistry Works

Through teledentistry, “dentists can meet their patients virtually in order to evaluate their conditions, present treatment plans, offer dental education, prescribe medication, and meet for pre-op and post-op appointments,” Mahnaz Rashti, DDS, a periodontist in Beverly Hills, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“This assures that the patient can see their dentist in a timely manner without needing to physically be in the office,” Rashti says.  

According to the American Dental Association, Teledentistry is usually provided in four different ways:

  • Live video (synchronous): This involves live, two-way interaction between a patient and their dental health expert via video call.
  • Store and forward (asynchronous): This involves the transfer of recorded health information like photographs, x-rays, and digital impressions to providers via a secured communication channel.
  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM): This form of monitoring collects your personal dental health information at one location and securely transmits it electronically to a practitioner at another location, for use in future dental care.
  • Mobile health (mHealth): This form of teledentistry uses mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, computers, and personal digital assistants to provide dental health education to the public.

“In my experience, teledentistry has provided a great way to meet patients and figure out their initial dental needs or concerns, all while helping to educate them on great dental practices at home and how to maintain proper oral hygiene,” Andrew Kitzmiller, DDS, an associate dentist at CinciSmiles in Cincinnati, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Teledentistry and Clear Aligners

“In recent history, teledentistry has largely been used as a way that patients can straighten their teeth without ever leaving home, thanks to clear aligners,” Christopher Young, DDS, a dentist at Young Family Dental, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“The largest benefit is that you don't have to leave home, making it a convenient option for people who live in rural communities without a dentist or orthodontist nearby,” Young adds.

According to the American Teledentistry Association, clear aligner treatment via teledentistry is a low-risk and effective method of teeth straightening that lowers treatment costs and provides greater access to care. The Association also states that teledentistry can be used to establish a valid patient-doctor relationship from which professionally-responsible teleorthodontic treatment can proceed. 

“Research completed by a professor at the Harvard Dental School, Dr. Marc Ackerman, found that teleorthodontic treatment with clear aligners is just as clinically effective in correcting crowding or spacing of less than 6 mm as is this treatment when supervised by general practitioners or specialists,” Payam Ataii, DMD, a dentist at Laguna Dental Center, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

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