Program Models

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Teledentistry, as a subset of telemedicine, utilizes technology for managing dental consultations, remote supervision, dental hygiene, and dental emergencies. The American Dental Association explains that teledentistry can include, but is not limited to, synchronous and asynchronous care, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health. This technology offers the ability to provide one-on-one patient education without leaving their home or school. Increasing the public’s awareness and acceptance of care through a digital process will help decrease barriers and improve equitable access to care. For the school population, learning to utilize teledentistry can benefit students receiving care in a timely fashion and enhance the student’s ability to be healthy.

Selecting Delivery Methods

Asynchronous: Utilizing asynchronous technology, digital images and notes can be transmitted using technology for the provider to review later (American Dental Association, 2023). For instance, hygienists can perform oral hygiene appointments without the dentist being present by utilizing remote supervision. Once the hygiene appointment is complete, they can store and forward the information to the provider for review and treatment planning. Asynchronous teledentistry offers provider flexibility and increases access to dental care. The supplies to use this technology consist of an intraoral camera, laptop computer, mobile chairs for the provider, staff, and patient, and a portable dental unit containing air, water, suction, and drainage. 

Synchronous: Utilizing synchronous teledentistry, providers use audiovisual telecommunications to facilitate real-time interaction between the oral health provider and the patient (American Dental Association, 2023). Synchronous teledentistry offers face-to-face patient interaction, encouraging patient-provider relationships without patients leaving their homes and schools. The downside of any teledentistry visit is that an oral health provider cannot physically examine a patient during a synchronous visit, which is a limitation. The supplies for this technology consist of a computer with a webcam and microphone, an intraoral camera or smartphone, internet access, and a subscription to a communication platform. 

Ensure that your platform is HIPAA compliant for patient privacy.

Mobile teledentistry is employed when delivering or receiving dental care using portable dental equipment and mobile dental vans. Any dental service, whether comprehensive or preventive, that occurs outside of a brick-and-mortar building is considered mobile dentistry. Mobile teledentistry brings your dental services to your patients. The cost of this technology is more extensive than synchronous and asynchronous and can be a limiting factor. A mode of transportation (e.g., van), laptop, intraoral camera, portable x-ray unit with sensor, portable dental unit, and mobile chairs are required.

Types of Settings

Distant Site

A site where a health care provider is located while providing services via a telecommunications system.

Originating Site

A site where a patient is located at the time health care services are provided via a telecommunications system or the site from which the patient’s health information is transmitted for an asynchronous store and forward service.

Building the Team

The visual below outlines the partnerships and stakeholders involved in Virginia Health Catalysts’ School-Based Teledentistry program. The partnership between each clinic, school, and/or technical assistance team will look different based on each group’s physical, social, and cultural differences.

Technology Budgets

This project is supported in part by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of a Health Resources and Services Administration Oral Health Work Force Grant awarded to the Virginia Department of Health (Project Period 09/01/2022 – 08/31/2026). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.