Up to 2.1 million trips to emergency departments are due to dental pain, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). But with ER staff often unable to do any more than prescribing antibiotics, something has to be done to stop emergency departments being inundated with patients they can’t help. The answer, says scientists and dental experts, is introducing teledentistry technology into emergency departments, but just how will this technology benefit dental patients?

Understanding teledentistry technology

Teledentistry was first introduced in the 1990s, but it’s only now that the notion is starting to take off. The concept is simple and allows dental professionals to provide dental care by collating patient information electronically via photo imagery, video, and communication technology. The technology produces real-time results that allow dentists to treat the patient as required. It can even provide resources and highlight dental concerns that may not have been spotted by the dentist, thus eliminating human error and giving the patient an all-round better service and a healthier mouth.

Prevention is key

It’s important that people keep their teeth healthy by routinely visiting the dentist. Dentists work with patients to ensure good oral hygiene and to provide restorative treatments for optimum comfort. However, with 6 in 10 people avoiding the dentist, essential treatment is being missed, and more people are turning up at ER with preventable issues such as tooth decay. Teledentistry aims to reduce this number, as it involves apps being used to educate patients on the importance of good oral hygiene, which can even monitor and advise on a patient’s teeth brushing routine from afar.

Implementing teledentistry in ER

Another reason why so many people go to the ER with dental pain is that they’re unable to access a dentist that accepts Medicaid patients. However, accessing dental treatment in this way is far from cost-effective as it costs up to $1,500 in ER but an average of just $90 to $200 via a dentist, states the ADA. Implementing teledentistry in ER could slash costs even further as no dental professionals are required on site. The technology allows a dentist anywhere in the world to witness, x-ray, and diagnose the problem and send the results securely in an electronic format. From there, ER caregivers can administer the appropriate medication, refer the patient to the relevant dental care service, and keep the patient comfortable.

Emergency departments are being bombarded with dental patients that they can’t help. But the implementation of teledentistry could soon help to drastically cut these figures and allow ER departments to offer dental care and support to those patients that do walk through their doors.

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