Teledentistry for the Dental Therapist — The Top 3 Things You Need to Know

By Melissa Turner, BASDH, RDHEP, EFDA, Co-founder, National Mobile & Teledentistry Conference

Welcome to the world of virtual care! In the last decade dentistry has experienced significant strides in innovation, business practices and technology — drastically changing how we think and practice. This especially rings true since the start of the pandemic. In the last 36 months we’ve seen an increase in business startups entering the space, the rise of countless new home care and in-office products, and a change in the mindset of our patients and team members. Individually, these changes have the ability to impact our daily lives as clinical healthcare providers in significant ways; collectively, these changes are creating an industry-wide paradigm-shift, changing dentistry before our very eyes.

As a 20-year industry veteran, I’ve held clinical roles as program director, dental assistant and independent dental hygienist with expanded certifications to restore teeth and provide anesthesia. One of the many highlights of my career is running a grant-funded mobile dental program in Minnesota. Shortly after joining the team, I redesigned the program to include the use of direct access dental hygienists, dental therapists, advanced dental therapists and teledentistry, enabling a more streamlined and efficient program. After witnessing the impact changes had, I then made it my career mission to do everything I could to advocate for the use of alternative care delivery models and mid-level providers. The phrase “alternative care delivery models” is a phrase coined by the American Mobile & Teledentistry Alliance (AMTA) in 2020 as an umbrella term to describe the many types of non-traditional dental care available to our patients — including portable delivery, mobile delivery, virtual care and all that’s to come in the future. Through AMTA’s annual conference, masterclasses and roundtable discussions, the organization’s mission is to provide a community of resources and support for providers currently using or looking to implement non-traditional care delivery models.

Dental practices both now and in the future are finding ways to care for their patients outside of their brick and mortar practice by offering services in homes, workplaces, community centers and directly into the patients’ hands. As dental therapists and licensed healthcare providers, here are the top three things you need to know about virtual care.

1. Virtual care is more than just live video chat- Instead, virtual care (or teledentistry) is an umbrella term for asynchronous/store-and-forward delivery, remote patient monitoring and includes the use of apps, artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart oral care devices, and more The sky is the limit!

2. Virtual care is the key to patient retention- It’s important to understand how the generational shifts in our patients can impact our organizations. For example, as the baby boomer generation ages and begins to lose autonomy, virtual care will allow them to remain connected to dental care providers.

3. The secret sauce- Combining virtual care with mobile delivery is the secret sauce to the success of clinical dental organizations. The peanut butter to the jelly, you can utilize one without the other but they are better together. Virtual care allows the mobile clinical to be more mobile yet staying better connected at the same time. Dentistry is changing and, as dental therapists, the great news is YOU are at the forefront of the change. As industry leaders, embracing teledentistry and other care delivery models will help our communities lead happier and healthier lives.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can implement virtual care or mobile delivery, we’d love to have you join us at our next conference on March 1-2, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. Tickets are on sale now and more information can be found at Use promo code NMTC100 for $100 off your ticket!

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