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General

Authors: Dr. Suraj Agarwal
 

Technological advances have revolutionized the face of dentistry & inpursuit of better oral health care delivery: the branch of “Teledentistry” emerged. Teledentistry can be defined as the use of electronic information & telecommunications technologies to support long distance clinical oral health care, patient & professional health related education, public health & health care administration. Cook in 1997 defined “Teledentistry” as “ The practise of using video conferencing technologies to diagnose & provide advise about treatment over a distance. There have been extensive technologic innovations in the field of Oral Medicine & Radiology in recent years. Advances have been made in the use of smart phones, computers, telecommunication technology, digital diagnostic imaging services, devices & software for diagnosis & follow up. Using advanced information technology, the science of dentistry today has crossed much longer distances than it was ever able to. New information technology has not only improved the quality of management of dental patients, but also made it possible for the oral physician to manage the patient at a distance.

Teledentistry showed a 50% reduction in cost associated with preventing unnecessary transfers. Similar studies using teledermatology verified a 51% reduction in referrals by general clinicians who would have otherwise referred the patients to a specialist. It was also reported that a teleconsulting system for preoperative consultation reduced from 43 to 10 the number of patients requiring the physical presence of a specialist for consultation before dentoalveolar procedures. Other studies have showed positive confidence regarding functionality of Teleradiology related to oral & paraoral structures.

Research on the use of email for diagnosing oral diseases, as well as dedicated Teledentistry systems, has revealed several limitations:

  1. The time required to procure digital photos of an oral lesion, transfer photos of an oral lesion, transfer photos to a device connected to the internet & forward the pictures as an attachment.
  2. The cost of intraoral cameras, digital cameras & dedicated systems with a degree of performance adequate for capturing high quality images.
  3. The consistent availability of these devices during oro-dental examinations.

The increasing number of smartphones users among health care professionals & patients has greatly enhanced the exchange of clinical records, in large part due to various software applications (e.g. Whats App, Viber, Wechat etc.) Oral Medicine & radiology individual can take advantage of this technology to remotely review oral lesions & maxillofacial imaging, Whats App mobile based application has gained widespread use in oral medicine & radiology consultation.