Tele-DENTISTRY: Is it Possible?

Dentistry has come a long way from its humble beginnings. But in essence it has been the same since its birth. The chair design has been modified to fit with the times. Sterilization procedures, surgical techniques, dental materials etc have evolved for the better as the years passed. The Dentist, the assistant, the Hygienist and the basic overall structure of the office have stayed the same. Technology has crept in and changed the face of practice management, billing, scheduling, etc along with the use of social media to be in responsive contact with the patient at all times. Will this change? Can it change? or Should it change?

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In life change is good. If it’s for the better. Old is gold, doesn’t mean we need to use old techniques or use outdated materials. But we could infuse the modern way of thinking with the old trends to bring in a new blend of infused Dentistry. Meaning, collaborating old with the new may give us new innovative products for modern applications. The old way of Dentistry still holds it’s ground today. WE make an appointment with our Dentist, still go to the physical office and get our Dentistry done in the so called old fashioned way but in the modern times. What can change and what do we need to change in what we have?

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The answer is to use modern technology in order to expand our services in the virtual World. The World is a large place and it covers a lot of area. Only less than 1/3 of the World is inhabited with most of the population concentrated in big cities. The rest are rural, very rural or remote. People still live in these areas. A night view from space shows the extent and distribution of Human population throughout the World. Cities are lit well with bright lights, the rest of the area is dark. Who serves these remote areas? Do they get dental disease? What do they do in case of a Dental emergency? Who takes care of them? The fact is nobody. Since their diet may be coarse in nature, their incidence of caries may be low. In addition, their gums may be much healthier since they have not been exposed to our tainted foods, chemicals or preservatives. This is to be taken into consideration because, the type of food consumed plays a major role in the development of dental caries. Then comes oral Hygiene. Traditions across the World have given great importance to personal Hygiene, oral hygiene being one of them. Of course they have kept up with their rich traditions thereby avoiding dental disease in the first place. Local remedies did their miracles if and when the need arose for their use.

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Today we are at the peak of technological innovation, but we are still doing Dentistry the old fashioned way. This does not seem to be cool nor innovative. We should be able to treat anyone or everyone on the Planet remotely.  Joy sticks and live streaming may help play a major part in treatment designing, planning and to facilitate movement of artificial arms on the other end. This may require the incorporation of computers, robotics, the use of advanced computer programs such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and of course THE mind of a Dentist. Human mind is much more powerful. We shouldn’t be underestimating it. It thinks it and it does it. It’s the will of the mind. So can we get it done using our current technology? The technology is here. The hardware is here. All we have to do is to assemble the parts and put it to work.

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Why have we not done it yet? We love to make everything complex. Legal, ethical, social and political issues come into play creating much more hurdles along the way. When the mind is held back innovation loses. We just have Max100 years to make things work our way during our lifetime. We have already lost half of that. So when do we plan to act on our ideas? Maybe never. Unless we try we will never win. If we do not start, it’s an automatic failure. This applies to anything we do in life. Most innovations and inventions that came into being happened just in a span of 100 years such as electricity, the light bulb, AC-DC motor, alternator, airplanes, automobiles, TV, radio, phones, computers etc etc. Think about it. Did I miss something? Since that time no major life changing events have taken place, I mean major ones.

Healthcare has grown by leaps and bounds benefiting the middle man, but not the patient or the doctor. We have the best Medical technology and the most innovative infrastructure found anywhere in the Whole World, but we have the worst Health care system. So what is the purpose of having the best, if it does not serve the purpose for which it was intended for? What is wrong with this picture? Why is it so? Why is it that the select few benefit and the mass suffers. Is it because we have been conditioned to accept it as status quo? or is it because patients have no other option? What ever may be the reason patients are not getting the treatment they need probably due to red tape.

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Why have we not implemented Tele-care for teeth yet? With Tele-Dentistry, we could start off with video consultations, then move forward from there towards performing procedures with our artificial hands located thousands of miles away treating someone somewhere across many time zones. Is it possible? I think it is highly possible.

There are many people in this World who have no access to dental care. In my view preventive dentistry and dental education may pave the way to prevention in the first place. Once preventive efforts are channeled to prevent the disease, there will be no need to perform any major procedures. Innovation takes effort. Effort must have passion built into it to see it to the execution of the invention.

We are not far away from seeing this idea materialize. Someone somewhere might be working on the same.

Maybe it’s you?  You never know. 

http://www.DrSelvanDDS.com

 

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Amit Sood says:

    Interesting thought
    There is Tele medicine so why can there not be Tele Dentistry

    Like

  2. Thank you for the input Amit.

    Like

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