Teledentistry: Revolutionizing Dental Care in the Digital Age

19 April 2024

What Is Teledentistry and Why Has It Become Popular?

In an era where efficiency and time management reign supreme, the quest to accommodate more activities within our busy schedules has become a paramount concern. One notable solution that has emerged is teledentistry, a method of delivering dental care that extends the reach of dental professionals while providing patients with efficient access to necessary treatments. Teledentistry involves the use of interactive audio, video, or data communications for various dental purposes, including examination, diagnosis, treatment planning, consultation, and directing treatment delivery.

The surge in teledentistry’s popularity was catalyzed by the global spread of COVID-19, which prompted many dental offices to either limit their services or temporarily close. During this period, virtual consultations emerged as a lifeline, allowing patients to receive urgent care remotely.An in-depth overview of teledentistry’s emergence can be found here.

However, it’s essential to recognize that while teledentistry offers undeniable benefits, it also has limitations, particularly regarding the performance of physical dental procedures and the accurate diagnosis of certain conditions. As we navigate beyond the pandemic, teledentistry continues to be a viable option for enhancing access to dental care, particularly for individuals residing in rural or underserved areas. However, implementing teledentistry requires careful consideration of state regulations, training requirements, and cybersecurity measures to ensure patient privacy and data security.

What Benefits Does Teledentistry Offer?

This article aims to explore the nuances of teledentistry, including its benefits, drawbacks, regulatory considerations, and practical implementation strategies. By providing a comprehensive overview of teledentistry, we hope to empower dental professionals to make informed decisions about integrating this innovative approach into their practice. The year 2020 heavily altered reality as we knew it. COVID-19 changed how we lived our everyday lives, from going to the grocery store, going into work, and accessing dental and healthcare services. In March of 2020, the “ADA Health Policy Institute survey indicated that 76% of dental offices closed but saw emergency patients only, 19% were completely closed, and 5% were open but seeing a lower volume of patients.” For more details on the survey, refer to ADA Health Policy Institute. The lockdown and restrictions on public contact greatly impacted both the public consumers and businesses alike. As dental practices were either recommended to close or severely limit the number of patient encounters, teledentistry was accepted by many state boards to treat patients via means such as videoconferencing. Although this allowed the doctor-patient relationship to continue, “online consultations [do] have limitations in diagnosing diseases and evaluating patient problems.”

Teledentistry enables dental professionals to conduct examinations and deliver treatments remotely. Similar to its counterpart, telehealth, teledentistry facilitates remote assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, thereby expanding access to dental care, especially for those in underserved areas. Patients residing in such regions can now engage with dentists for both emergency and non-emergency dental concerns around the clock. Dentists have the capability to conduct live consultations and examinations through video calls or by reviewing digital images and pre-recorded videos submitted by patients. Moreover, dentists can prescribe antibiotics or analgesics as needed, and if necessary, coordinate further treatment with in-person examinations or referrals to dental specialists.

Are There Limitations to Teledentistry?

Due to the limitations that come with teledentistry care, it is important to inform your patients of the disadvantages, and that online care can only contribute so much to diagnosis. Although we are seemingly moving past the pandemic, teledentistry is still an option for care, which has been beneficial for those who live in rural areas and do not have access to a nearby dental office. It is important to stay current with your “state’s scope of practice laws, regulations, or rules” and how it applies to teledentistry and determine the positives and obstacles that come with implementing this method of care in your practice.

What Are the Challenges of Implementing Teledentistry?

While teledentistry presents numerous advantages, it also comes with its own set of challenges. The initial investment in costly telecommunications equipment and the necessity for additional training may dissuade some dentists from adopting this service. Ensuring adequate training is crucial to delivering high-quality dental care through teledentistry. Safeguarding patient privacy is paramount, given the transmission of sensitive patient records and personal data between patients and dentists. Without robust cybersecurity measures in place, there’s a risk of compromising patient data integrity. Moreover, the effectiveness of teledentistry hinges on reliable internet connectivity on both ends. Real-time video consultations rely on sufficient internet bandwidth; low internet speeds can render virtual consultations impractical or even impossible. Thus, ensuring reliable internet service is essential for seamless teledentistry interactions between dentists and patients.

How Does Teledentistry Fit into Post-Pandemic Dental Care?

As the world continues to return to life before the COVID-19 pandemic, it leaves the dental field with now an additional method in delivering care to our communities. Although teledentistry limits the physical procedures that can be performed on a patient, it “is an innovative way to expand access to dental care while streamlining the time needed from the dental professionals as well as patients”. Efficiency is an important element for any business including dental practices. By having patient visits via video conference, you can treat a higher number of patients in a smaller timeframe, leaving you with more time to utilize for other areas of your practice. It is vital to reference the state board’s laws and regulations regarding the practice of teledentistry. Continuity of care is necessary after a teledentistry visit, and it is recommended to be aware of the “availability of local dental resources to provide proper follow-up care to a patient”. If you are unsure if your medical malpractice policy includes coverage for these services, please contact your insurance agent and ask to review the policy language. You can also contact your insurance provider’s risk management department for resources and guidance to ensure you are administering care via teledentistry according to your state statutes.


Teledentistry has proven to be more than a temporary solution; it is a sustainable addition to dental care practices that enhances service delivery and operational efficiency. It’s important for dental professionals to understand both the potential and the limitations of this approach to make informed decisions and provide the best care possible. For guidelines on teledentistry best practices, dental professionals can consult resources provided by The American Teledentistry Association.

Written by Commercial Account Manager Team Lead, Katelyn Haniotes, and Senior Commercial Lines Account Manager, Cynthia Bunch.

Article Sources

ADA. (2020) In ADA Policy on Teledentistry. Retrieved from https://www.ada.org/en/about/governance/current-policies/ada-policy-on-teledentistry.

Adrien. (2021). In Pros and Cons of Teledentistry in Dental Practice. Retrieved from https://denteractive.com/dentist-blog/pros-and-cons-of-teledentistry-in-dental-practice/.

Arizona State Legislature. (2024). In Title 36-3612: Delivery of Care Through Teledentistry; Requirements; Exceptions. Retrieved from https://www.azleg.gov/viewdocument/?docName=http%3A//www.azleg.gov/ars/36/03612.htm.

Brian Z, Weintraub JA. (2020). In Oral Health and COVID-19: Increasing the Need for Prevention and Access. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2020/20_0266.htm.

Colgate Global Scientific Communications (2023). In Teledentistry 101. Retrieved from https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/dental-visits/what-is-teledentistry#

Islam RR, Islam R, Ferdous S, Watanabe C, Yamauti M, Alam M, Sano H. (2022). In Teledentistry as an Effective Tool for the Communication Improvement between Dentists and Patients: An Overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9408418/


Authored by Katelyn Haniotes and Cindy Bunch, contributing members of the Inszone Insurance Services team.

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