The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has alerted the country that increased person-to-person spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely, and that measures to contain the disease will become more and more disruptive to daily life. When the crisis reaches the point where public health officials are requiring people to stay home, dentists will have to evaluate and care for many patients using teledentistry. However, if extreme measures like mass quarantines ultimately go into effect, teledentistry will be the only way patients can be seen by their dentists.
Now is the time for dental health professionals to join our medical colleagues and public health officials in containing the COVID-19 pandemic. With simple tools like smartphones and laptop webcams, dentists can see the most vulnerable dental patients safely in their homes thereby eliminating their risk of infection.
Now is not the time to raise up legislative barriers against teledentistry. The American Teledentistry Association’s mission has always been to expand access to dental care to those who need it the most, to drive down healthcare costs and make in-office appointments more efficient. We believe that it is dentistry’s ethical and professional obligation to make sure that in this time of great anxiety, the American populace can rest assured that America’s dental leadership is considering every means at its disposal to provide dental care to those in need without exposing them to unnecessary risks and expense.
Marc Ackerman, DMD, MBA
Executive Director, American Teledentistry Association