What Does Teledentistry Look Like in the Time of COVID-19?

The COVID-19 epidemic has changed the way we do healthcare dramatically, including dental services.  Penn Dental Medicine is rapidly expanding our telemedicine capacities to keep up with patients’ need for care while limiting person-to-person contact.

While we are unable to accept new patients at this time, PDM continues to offer services to patients of record through teledentistry appointments. In the future, we hope to extend this opportunity to new patients as well. With the progressive advances in telehealth technologies, we’re pleased to draw on our diagnostic and clinical expertise to provide our patients with quality care. 

What Is Teledentistry

Teledentistry falls under the category of telemedicine (or telemedicine in dentistry), which refers to a “virtual visit” that takes place via communications technology—usually with videoconferencing. A teledentistry visit consists of a meeting between a dentist and patient in regards to an oral health problem. 

Teledentistry allows the dentist to use electronic information and imaging technologies to provide dental diagnosis, treatment, and patient education. Virtual consultations make it possible for dentists to utilize many of the same clinical skills they would normally use in-person while bypassing the need for a physical visit. 

How Do I Get Care While Maintaining Privacy?

Male dentist in white coat holds a white cell phone to meet with a patient.PDM remains committed to the highest standards of patient privacy and care. In light of the unique difficulties associated with the COVID-19 emergency, HIPPA recently released guidelines that give more leeway to providers seeking to treat patients through telemedicine. During the COVID-19 crisis. Providers may use popular applications such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Zoom, or Google Hangouts video in order to meet with patients. 

Even as these applications facilitate greater access to telemedicine, providers must maintain the same high standards of privacy and confidentiality required under HIPPA. 

What Does Teledentistry Look Like at PDM? 

Though current restrictions do not permit dentists to see patients in person, we are using teledentistry to meet with patients virtually. 

Your teledentistry session will feel similar to a typical appointment, starting with questions about when you first began noticing symptoms and where. You may be asked to touch the affected area and describe how it feels. The dentist may ask you to capture an image by turning to the right and left in order to get a better view of the condition. 

Based on your history, images, and descriptions, your dentist will develop a treatment plan to manage the condition. You might be asked to purchase materials from a pharmacy, after which the dentist can guide you on how to place a temporary crown or how to smooth out a chipped tooth using an emery board. 

If an infection is involved, you may be prescribed an antibiotic or receive counseling on how to clean the area until it’s possible for you to come in for a procedure. Our dentists have a variety of tools at their disposal to help you treat and manage the condition until we can provide a more permanent solution.

What If I Have a Dental Emergency?

Some dental conditions qualify as emergencies and cannot be treated remotely. If your condition is deemed an emergency during your telehealth appointment, Penn Dental Medicine can perform an in-person emergency procedure

We strongly urge patients who believe they are experiencing an emergency to call us at 215-898-8965 (after hours: 215-898-8961) rather than visit an emergency room at this time. Going to the emergency room is not safe due to the influx of COVID-19 patients, and our dentists are better equipped to assess your condition and take action if necessary. 

Again, please do not hesitate to contact us at 215-898-8965 (after hours: 215-898-8961) with your concerns or to schedule a telehealth appointment.

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