In a recent article by the New York Times, comedian and actor Larry David was asked what he fears most during this crisis, and he replied: “Anarchy and a potential dental emergency — and not necessarily in that order.” Fortunately for Larry David, and the millions of quarantined people throughout the United States, The TeleDentists is here to help (with dental emergencies, not anarchy). Before the Covid Crisis, on average, in The United States, six million people annually experience an urgent dental problem but lack access to a regular dentist or are unable to find a dentist who can see them quickly. The American Dental Association documents over two million annual ED visits in the US for nontraumatic dental problems. However, with the pandemic that is plaguing our world, the hospital is the LAST place anyone wants to go for dental problems. Teledentistry is quickly becoming a popular option for dentists seeking to stay open and see emergency dental patients during the coronavirus outbreak.
Much like any other specialty using tele-medicine, dentists can perform video consults connecting through the patient’s laptop, tablet or smart phone to a virtual dentist. The TeleDentists deliver vital dental services virtually wherever, whenever a dentist is needed. They provide help with dental emergencies, answers to oral health issues, and education for patients. People in need of support can consult with their dentist online and get the benefits of speaking with the right specialist, and never leave their living room.
Here’s how it works:
· Dentist diagnoses the patient’s problem using advanced virtual care technology
· Dentist provides e-script for antibiotic and/or non-narcotic pain medication.
· Dentist arranges follow-on care as needed (emergency only)
The TeleDentists service was founded by Maria Kunstadter, DDS. It offers dentists a HIPAA-compliant teledentistry method to (1) stay connected with their current patients of record and (2) connect with new patients seeking a dentist.
How The TeleDentists Service Works during the Covid19 Crisis:
Patients do not want to visit their dentists as most offices have closed or are only seeing emergency patients. Patients can no longer go the Emergency Room for dental pain as they are standing on long lines or getting turns away. Yet, patients are still getting toothaches. Many are finding The TeleDentists at www.theteledentists.com where they can see a dentist, usually within 10 minutes, who can remediate the problem, get a prescription sent to a local pharmacy, and get information about local dentists whose offices are open for emergencies.
Many dentists had to close their offices in compliance with the American Dental Association recommendations. In response, The TeleDentists is offering use of their system for dental offices to stay in touch with their patients. The My TeleDentist Program employs virtual technology in dental offices to provide teledental services to existing and new patients. Dentists nation-wide have found The TeleDentists to be able to remotely provide service to their own patients, or patients of The TeleDentists.
The number one reason patients like teledentistry is because it lets them know if their current dental problem is serious. Many teledentistry calls are about toothaches, pain, swelling, cracked teeth, chipped teeth, loose teeth, abscesses, cold sores, filling fell out, temporary crown came off, broken denture, etc. Parents often use teledentistry to ask questions about their children’s teeth and whether something is normal. Current patients of record who use clear aligners like teledentistry because the general dentist or orthodontist can determine whether the patient is ready for his or her next set of aligners and simply mail them out.
Teledentistry eliminates the need for unnecessary exposure during this coronavirus outbreak, while still providing dental expertise. And it gives dentists a way to stay in touch with their current patients during this challenging time. It also gives the dentist the opportunity to triage dental emergency calls and determine how many members of the dental team will be needed to treat the patient in-office.
The TeleDentists is HIPAA-compliant and includes the protocols needed to gather the patient’s data so it can be submitted to insurance companies for reimbursement. “Many of the carriers have relaxed their in-person requirement for the limited evaluation,” said Teresa Duncan, author of Moving Your Patients to Yes: Easy Insurance Conversations. “This is an unprecedented situation and carriers are being more flexible.”
The TeleDentists offers a direct-to-consumer option for $59, and has recently partnered with Cigna and Anthem insurance companies to provide teledental care to their customers.
“At the end of the day, you want to provide dental care,” said co-founder Dr. Maria Kunstadter. “By staying in close contact with your patients and helping them when they really need it, you’ll be on a good footing when you reopen. You’ll be able to schedule those people and say let’s get that fixed now.” Furthermore, keeping patients in the dental office and not in the emergency room is vital right now. “Who would want to go into the emergency room with a toothache and come out with a virus?” asked Dr. Kunstadter. “It’s critical that we help them get the care they need. They should be calling a dentist.”
Is this the turning point we hoped for which will put teledentistry on the map? We at The TeleDentists are amazed and humbled by the response from healthcare workers and support staff around the country and are hoping to do our part. We pray that readers of this blog and their families are healthy and safe. We’re all in this together.
For more information on The TeleDentists, please visit: