HumanInsight Teledentistry Implementation During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Scoping Review
Interact J Med Res. 2022 Jul 21;11(2):e39955. doi: 10.2196/39955.
BACKGROUND: COVID-19 spreads via aerosol droplets. The dental profession is at high risk of contracting the virus since their work includes treatment procedures that produce aerosols. Teledentistry offers an opportunity to mitigate the risk to dental personnel by allowing dentists to provide care without direct patient contact.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this scoping review was to examine the implementation, challenges, strategies, and innovations related to teledentistry during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
METHODS: This scoping review evaluated teledentistry use during the pandemic by searching for articles in PubMed and Google Scholar using the search terms teledentistry, tele-dentistry, covid-19, coronavirus, telehealth, telemedicine, and dentistry. Inclusion criteria consisted of articles published in English from March 1, 2020, to April 1, 2022, that were relevant to dentistry and its specialties, and that included some discussion of teledentistry and COVID-19. Specifically, the review sought to explore teledentistry implementation, challenges, strategies to overcome challenges, and innovative ideas that emerged during the pandemic. It followed the 2020 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR). This approach is organized into 5 distinct steps: formulating a defined question, using the question to develop inclusion criteria to identify relevant studies, an approach to appraise the studies, summarizing the evidence using an explicit methodology, and interpreting the findings of the review.
RESULTS: A total of 32 articles was included in this scoping review and summarized by article type, methodology and population, and key points about the aims; 9 articles were narrative review articles, 10 were opinion pieces, 4 were descriptive studies, 3 were surveys, 2 were integrative literature reviews, and there was 1 each of the following: observational study, systematic review, case report, and practice brief. Teledentistry was used both synchronously and asynchronously for virtual consultations, often employing commercial applications such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Zoom. Dental professionals most commonly used teledentistry for triage, to reduce in-person visits, and for scheduling and providing consultations remotely. Identified challenges included patient and clinician acceptance of teledentistry, having adequate infrastructure, reimbursement, and security concerns. Strategies to address these concerns included clinician and patient training and utilizing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant applications. Benefits from teledentistry included providing care for patients during the pandemic and extending care to areas lacking access to dental care.
CONCLUSIONS: Pandemic lockdowns led to new teledentistry implementations, most commonly for triage but also for follow-up and nonprocedural care. Teledentistry reduced in-person visits and improved access to remote areas. Challenges such as technology infrastructure, provider skill level, billing issues, and privacy concerns remain.
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