WASHINGTON–(COMMERCIAL THREAD) – The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and expanded the use of teledentistry, offering new promise in the ability to reach vulnerable populations most in need of oral health care, according to a report by policy research American Association for Dental Education (ADEA).
At the same time, the report—“Teledentistry: Innovation to Improve Access and Delivery of Oral Health Care Services in Dental Education”“Dental training is essential to fully realize this potential because of the need to train future dentists on the latest models and processes of teledentistry.
“Health care delivery systems, oral health stakeholders and policy makers have a critical role to play in ensuring that teledentistry parity is achieved in order to continue to provide optimal oral health services” , according to the report. “Looking to the future, academic dentistry will be essential in educating and training the dentists of tomorrow on the modalities of teledentistry and offering a new perspective on the delivery of oral health care. ”
The report notes that the use of teledentistry by dental schools and programs predated the pandemic and its application increased once the pandemic struck.
For example, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco in 2010 launched a “virtual dental home” to meet the oral health needs of low-income households in California. During the pandemic, the school dove deeper into teledentistry, using it in university departments specializing in dental and dental hygiene for patient consultations and other needs.
Similarly, the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in 2004 established a teledentistry network connecting university specialists with dentists and patients in remote rural areas. During the pandemic, the school expanded its partnership with community health centers for the delivery of oral health services.
The report pointed out that education and training in the application of teledentistry varies by dental school and program. In addition, there are no standards from the Commission on Dental Accreditation or the Liaison Committee on Medical Education that deal with teledentistry or telehealth.
In addition, opinions differ within the dental education profession as to whether dental schools should incorporate teledentistry into curricula due to concerns about factors such as associated financial costs, already overburdened programs, and overcrowding. teacher shortages.
Yet the report concludes that if teledentistry is to realize its full potential, dental education must somehow fully integrate it with both didactic learning and clinical simulations.
“While a lecture in teledentistry would inform and educate the student, the experience of the clinical application prepares the student to use teledentistry in their future practice,” the report reads.
The authors of the report are ADEA staff members Omar A. Escontriás, Dr. PH, MPH, Senior Director of Policy Research; Chelsea Skovran, MPA, Senior Administrative Partner; and Denice CL Stewart, DDS, MHSA, Chief Policy Officer.
The Teledentistry publication is the latest in a regular series of policy research reports published by ADEA’s Bureau of Policy Research and Education.
About ADEA: The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) is the voice of dental education. Our mission is to lead and support the health professional community in preparing oral health professionals ready for the future. Our members include 78 U.S. and Canadian dental schools, more than 800 Allied and advanced dental training programs, more than 50 companies and approximately 18,000 people. Our activities encompass a wide range of research, advocacy, faculty development, meetings and communications, including the Journal of Dental Education®, as well as the application services of dental schools ADEA AADSAS®, ADEA PASS®, ADEA DHCAS® and ADEA CAAPID®. For more information visit adea.org.