With advancing technology, ideas such as teledentistry are coming up more often. Teledentistry refers to when dentists use technology to remotely diagnose and treat their patients.
There are some obvious benefits of teledentistry, such as the ability to treat patients no matter where they live or how mobile they are. However, when you look at the other side of the spectrum, it becomes clear why teledentistry is NOT a replacement for visiting your dentist in person. It should only be used if necessary, and even then, you should always follow up with an in-person visit as soon as possible. As such, there may not really be a place for teledentistry.
But why is this the case? Take a closer look at the major failings of teledentistry and why you should never use it as a replacement for seeing Dr. Dhiraj Sharma in person.
Nothing Can Replace an In-person Dental Checkup
One of the most important reasons to visit your dentist is so that they can look at your teeth in person and examine them carefully. This lets your dentist spot any potential issues, from small cavities to inflamed gums. Ideally, they will notice these issues early, so you can start a treatment plan to reduce the long-term damage.
After all, a cavity can grow and require a root canal or even cause you to lose your tooth. Or inflamed gums can separate from your teeth, leaving space for bacteria to enter. Or maybe your dentist will spot an early warning sign of oral cancer, letting you start treatment before it advances and spreads.
Many teledentistry services do their best to overcome this lack of in-person dental inspection by using technology. Yes, you can have another medical professional complete X-rays and send them over or point a camera in your mouth, but this simply is not the same.
Those are good supplementary measures to Dr. Sharma looking at your teeth in person, but they should not be used alone. Technology can’t deliver a perfect image, so there is always a chance that it won’t show minor discoloration that gives your dentist a clue something is wrong.
You Don’t Get Professional Cleanings
Another significant issue with teledentistry is that you will not get a dental cleaning. This is crucial because even if you brush and floss regularly and do a good job, your dental hygienist will remove plaque and tartar that you missed.
Professional Cleanings Get Spots You Missed
Remember that you cannot always see the buildup on your teeth. This means that even if you think your teeth look clean, they likely have a very thin layer of buildup. It’s tough to reach tooth crevices, the spaces between your teeth, and the sides or back of your teeth yourself. Even those with the best oral hygiene habits are likely to occasionally miss a spot. Your dental cleanings help make up for this.
Professional Cleaning Tools Are More Effective
There’s also the fact that your dentist and dental hygienist use professional tools for the cleaning that you simply don’t have access to. These tools not only improve cleaning efficiency but also quality. Even if you have the best electric toothbrush, your regular dental cleanings will remove extra tartar and plaque.
Tartar Requires Professional Removal
On top of all of that, consider that you cannot remove tartar yourself. Hardened tartar is common between your teeth, by the base of the teeth, and along their backs, and you simply don’t have the tools to remove it. Removing tartar requires special dental instruments that the average person doesn’t have access to. If you did have access to them, you wouldn’t know how to use them properly.
Essentially, without regular dental cleanings, you will have tartar buildup. You simply can’t get these professional cleanings done via teledentistry.
Insurance Can Be a Concern
Yet another potential issue with teledentistry is the possible cost. Because it is still fairly new, many insurance companies don’t cover teledentistry appointments. They typically say that teledentistry increases the risk of fraudulent billing. Others may simply argue that it is not as effective, thanks to the other points on this list, and therefore should not be covered.
This means that patients will have to pay for the cost out of pocket. This can be particularly problematic for those on a tight budget, especially since teledentistry simply doesn’t deliver the same quality of care as in-person visits.
As soon as you increase the level of technology involved in patient treatment, you also increase the cybersecurity concerns. Teledentistry is still in its infancy, so experts are unsure how secure the various platforms dentists use are. You don’t want to accidentally allow cybercriminals to access data on your patients or even interfere with appointments.
Long-term Oral Health Concerns
Considering all of the above factors mean that choosing teledentistry can lead to long-term oral health concerns.
Your dentist does not have the chance to catch minor issues early before they get worse. They may not be able to see a cavity on the camera or may not be able to tell if your gum pockets are too large. This can delay treatment and worsen your oral health in the long run.
The lack of dental cleanings means that tartar and plaque can build up. This can lead to further issues down the line, especially if your dentist can’t tell that they have accumulated over the camera.
You Don’t Need Teledentistry Anyway
Not only is teledentistry not a replacement for visiting your dentist in person, but you don’t need it. Dr. Dhiraj Sharma has taken the appropriate safety measures in his practice, eliminating any concerns you may have about COVID-19. Thanks to strict guidelines, your health is safe when you visit the office.
You can schedule an appointment at our dental offices in Chicago with Dr. Sharma with confidence, knowing that you are prioritizing your oral health in both the short and the long term. You will get a higher level of care than you could with teledentistry and leave your appointment aware of any warning signs of potential oral health problems.