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An Overwhelmingly Orwellian Response to Teledentistry

After attending quite a few meetings of State Dental Boards, State Dental Associations and some National Dental Associations, I am dumbfounded by the unmitigated fury and vitriol coming from so-called practitioners of the healing arts with regard to teledentistry. Almost reflexively naysayers use terms like unethical, substandard, poor quality, and dangerous to describe aspects of teledentistry.  No matter how many epithets are hurled like javelins at the proponents of teledentistry, those who are knowledgable about the benefits, risks, methods and limitations of this mode of practice can only laugh at the willful ignorance of these troglodytes.

Personally, it has been a Sisyphean task trying to educate colleagues about the success of telehealth in medicine while routinely being told that it’s not appropriate for dentistry because dentistry is “different”. I have taken a deep dive into the current use-cases in teledentistry and am optimistic about the speed with which technology is improving our ability to diagnose, educate and treat patients with different dental conditions.

In the case of teleorthodontic treatment with clear aligners, I have gone on record through interviews, blogs and a retrospective case series paper published in an open access journal about this type of orthodontic practice. It is not a panacea for all malocclusions and it certainly doesn’t come without risks if not practiced appropriately. Clearly, as in the case of all dental care provided globally, outcomes are only as good as the ethics, skill, and chance of the individual dentist performing the service.

The ATDA and this blog exist to shine a light on all of teledentistry: the good, the bad and the ugly.  So if you have a point of view on a topic that is different than that of mine or the ATDA, I encourage you to submit a guest blog and as long as it is factual and not abusive/inappropriate, I will be pleased to publish it.

Marc Ackerman, DMD, MBA  Executive Director ATDA

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