Study finds teledentistry a valid substitute for in-person initial consultations

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the widespread adoption of videoconferencing tools in many industries, and dentistry is no exception. A new study has found that, for triage purposes and initial consultations, teledentistry has a relatively high acceptance rate among dentists and patients alike.

The study was led by an interdisciplinary team of periodontists and psychologists from King’s College London, who set out to measure dental professionals’ and patients’ attitudes towards teledentistry and how these services could be improved. Before and after video consultations between July 1 and December 14, 2020, a series of questionnaires were answered by the 228 individuals who participated.

Overall, 75.7% of the patients surveyed strongly agreed that they were comfortable accessing a dental consultation via video rather than attending an in-person dental check-up. Almost 80% of patients stated that they would recommend the video consultation. Whereas 77.4% of all respondents stated that they perceived video consultations to be either extremely or somewhat helpful prior to their appointments, this figure jumped to 87.1% after their appointments had been conducted.

There were some marked differences between the perceptions of different dental specialists regarding the helpfulness of teledentistry—perceptions that shifted once an appointment had taken place. Whereas 23.5% of periodontists believed a video appointment would not be helpful prior to it having taken place, 35.2% deemed it unhelpful post appointment. In contrast, 76.9% of restorative specialists thought, pre-appointment, that a virtual check-up would prove to be unhelpful. Post-appointment, this number dropped down to 30.8%.