In the current Covid-19 era, every business and industry is trying to adjust to the new reality of balancing social distancing and customer interaction. With dentistry, given the nature of the services rendered, the challenges are even greater. However, by leveraging the use of innovative dental technologies, dentists have been achieving success in striking this balance. This is especially true with teledentistry & Invisalign.
What is Teledentistry?
In their Policy Statement on Teledentistry, the Ohio Dental Association explains that teledentistry refers to the use of telehealth systems and methodologies in dentistry.
Generally speaking, teledentistry uses a broad variety of technologies and tactics in the delivery of patient care and education using, but not limited to
Live video (synchronous):
Live, two-way interaction between a patient, caregiver, or provider using audiovisual telecommunications technology.
Transmission of recorded health information (for example, radiographs, photographs, video, digital impressions, etc) through a secure digital communications system to a practitioner, who uses the information to evaluate a patient’s condition or render a service outside of real-time or live interaction.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM):
Personal health and medical data collection from an individual in one location via electronic communication technologies, which is transmitted to a provider in a different location for use in care and related support of care.
Mobile health (mHealth):
Health care and public health practice and education supported by mobile communication devices such as cell phones, tablet computers, and personal digital assistants (PDA)
Teledentistry And Invisalign
“Beam Me Up, Scotty” Comes to InvisalignTM
Even those people who are not viewers of the popular TV series, Star Trek, are familiar with that phrase. The words, “Beam Me Up, Scotty”, although never spoken on the show, became popular to describe what Captain Kirk said when he wanted to return to his traveling home, the Starship Enterprise.
Moving through space via some magical energy was standard on the show. In the age of the voice-only telephones, seeing and conversing with someone in a distant place was taken for granted.
Today, in the year 2020, video and audio communication are used regularly. This type of conversation has come to the forefront in the age of COVID 19. Millions of people are talking and seeing their friends and colleagues across the globe or the street. This technology is a function of social distancing and is thriving beyond anyone’s imagination.
Telemedicine, as a tool for primary medical care, has exploded amongst physicians. To treat patients while maintaining a safe distance has spurned this revolution.
Dentistry has jumped on the bandwagon too, with teledentistry, although since we use many hands-on procedures, the adoption rate is somewhat slower. After all, getting your teeth cleaned or crown made can not be done without physical presence.
There is one procedure that lends itself to this technology. Partially spurred by the new social distancing approach, Invisalign orthodontics, offers this new approach to dental care.
The Invisalign System
For those of you who are not familiar with InvisalignTM, allow me to explain it to you briefly. We are all familiar with braces and how they move teeth. The typical braces patient is a teenager or young adult. Approximately 20 years ago, a new way to move teeth debuted. This technique utilized custom plastic devices or aligners that fit precisely over your teeth and can move those teeth.
Unlike braces that involve bending wires and moving brackets on teeth, the InvisalignTM method often involves a short visit, including a visual check and the traditional handing over more plastic devices.
Fast forward to 2020, and much of this can be accomplished with picture sharing and talking to and through a device. A smartphone, tablet, or computer allows an exchange of information between the doctor and the patient. Since this is the case, the patient spends less time traveling to the office. Less travel is appealing as it is convenient, safer, and fits easily in a busy schedule.
Teledentistry via The Invisalign App
Our office is proud to offer teledentistry virtual care utilizing InvisalignTM technology. It is fast and easy for everyone.
It involves an app on the patient end and is quite simple to use. I can check how your aligners (the plastic devices that move your teeth) fit in your mouth and compare your progress to our goal. We communicate via the app or any other electronic means.
Of course, if a phone call or coming in to see me is more appropriate, the system is not an all or nothing. As with all forms of technology in my office, I like to use a blend and take the best parts of traditional with innovations.
If you have considered fixing your smile but time or other constraints put a brake on the process, maybe it’s time to revisit the subject. We have moved to online registration and electronic appointment reminders to help the entire process. Call Megan at 440.951.7856, and she will help set up a create a visit for us to talk. I look forward to meeting you.
Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Comprehensive Care.