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Table of Contents   
GUEST EDITORIAL  
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 189
Using teledentistry for providing the specialist access to rural Indians


Department of Public Health Dentistry, People's College of Dental Sciences & Research Centre, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

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Date of Web Publication27-Aug-2011
 

How to cite this article:
Reddy K V. Using teledentistry for providing the specialist access to rural Indians. Indian J Dent Res 2011;22:189

How to cite this URL:
Reddy K V. Using teledentistry for providing the specialist access to rural Indians. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2011 [cited 2014 Jul 22];22:189. Available from: http://www.ijdr.in/text.asp?2011/22/2/189/84275



The aim of this editorial is to suggest a suitable approach to the policy makers, through which rural Indians can access speciality dental care. It is evident from the existing literature that there are definite inequalities in the delivery of oral health care in India, [1] with majority of the qualified dental manpower, especially the specialists, being concentrated only in urban areas where only 27.8% [2] of the Indian population havens. There are many barriers for the rural Indians to access speciality dental care, such as geographic remoteness, poor or no public transportation, and poverty, leading to a compromise on quality dental care, resulting in complications. So, how do these geographically isolated, underserved people be justified with regard to accessing speciality care? Teledentistry could be one of the possible options.

Teledentistry is a newly emerging area of dentistry that uses dental health records, telecommunications technology, digital imaging and the Internet to link dental health care providers in rural or remote communities with specialists in larger communities to enhance communication, the exchange of health-related information and access to dental care for underserved patients. [3] It requires videoconferencing equipment set up at both the hub site and remote site. Teleconsultation through teledentistry can take place in either of the following ways. "Real-time" consultation uses a direct online video telecommunication between dentist, hygienist or patient in a remote community and a specialist who provides support or supervision. In the "store and forward" method, electronic dental health records and videos of the stored data can be retrieved and reviewed by the specialist who renders an opinion. Teledentistry is a unique way to deliver long-distance clinical training and continuing education and hands-on training to the dentist/dental hygienist at remote clinics. It can even facilitate patient education about self-care. It saves the time and money spent on extra appointments by the patient as the care can be accessed at remote areas also. It requires low technical equipments so that users at both the ends can communicate face to face. A major challenge in teledentistry is the collaboration between the hub site and remote site.

India, with its diverse landmass, huge rural population and existing health care delivery mechanism clubbed with advances in telecommunications technology, could be an ideal setting for teledentistry. General dental surgeon and dental hygienists can be appointed at the sub-centers, who can provide cost-effective dental care when supported through teledentistry by specialists. Similarly, graduate dentists with knowledge in teledentistry can be appointed at the primary health centers and community health centers for discussing about the diagnosis and treatment plan of the difficult cases with the specialists. The dental colleges with a predetermined catchment area could be ideal places to serve as hub sites for teledentistry consultation as they encompass all the specialists serving under a common roof. A team of specialists could communicate for a few hours on a daily basis with the dentists/hygienists/patients at the remote clinics.

To conclude, teledentistry has the potential to eliminate the disparities in oral health care between rural and urban communities and to bring smiles on the rural faces in the near future.

 
   References Top

1.Nagarajappa S, Mohapatra AK. Indian Journal of Dental Research: Street dentistry: Time to tackle quackery. Indian J Dent Res 2009:20:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Park K. Preventive and Social Medicine. In: Demography and Family Planning. 20th ed. Jabalpur: Bhanot Publishers; 2009. p. 411-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Fricton J, Chen H. Dental Clinics of NorthAmerica: Using teledentistry to improve access to dental care for the underserved. Dent Clin N Am 2009;53:537-48.  Back to cited text no. 3
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Correspondence Address:
K Venu Gopal Reddy
Department of Public Health Dentistry, People's College of Dental Sciences & Research Centre, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
India
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DOI: 10.4103/0970-9290.84275

PMID: 21891882

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