Is teledentistry here to stay?

July 2023
Amara Cashion, Advisor

Prior to 2020, teledentistry was largely utilized to reach patients living in remote areas where care was not easily accessible or severely limited, such as nursing home residents with limited mobility or access to transportation. During the pandemic, teledentistry swiftly surpassed popular and became necessary. In fact, teledentistry is an effective marketing tool for some dental practices. But now that the urgent need caused by a pandemic has been removed, it raises the question: Is teledentistry here to stay? Let’s explore the advantages, challenges, and potential future impact of teledentistry.



What is teledentistry?

Teledentistry refers to the use of telehealth systems and methodologies in dentistry. As of 2021, Insight Partners reported this breakdown of teledentistry in the United States:

  • 9.2% of the telehealth services industry

  • 0.6% of the orthodontist landscape

  • 2.3% of the medical device manufacturing industry

  • 1.5% of dentists

Here are a few statements from the American Dental Association’s 2020 Comprehensive Policy Statement on Teledentistry:


What are the advantages of teledentistry?

According to a 2021 Teledentistry Market Forecast by The Insight Partners,  “The teledentistry market was valued at $667.13 million in 2019 and it is projected to reach $2.61 billion by 2027; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.1% from 2020 to 2027.” 

  • Accessibility:  With oral diseases on the rise, teledentistry is bridging the gap between dental providers and patients that may face barriers such as distance, limited mobility, or lack of transportation. Advances in technology extend the reach of dental professionals, increasing access to care by reducing the distance barrier and expanding the options for communication with dental team members.

  • Cost-Effective: Teledentistry eliminates the cost of in-person evaluations, reducing the dental practice’s overhead expenses. In the past, most major dental payers denied reimbursement for teledentistry codes. However, some payers began making allowances following the outbreak of COVID-19. This is a good sign that teledentistry is here to stay and will become more widespread in the future.

  • Consistent communication: Using teledentistry for virtual consultations and/or post-op visits allows dentists the flexibility to provide guidance remotely and determine the need for an in-office visit. Dentists can also monitor patients for chronic conditions. Some of the current technologies allowed to perform teledentistry include non-public communication platforms such as smartphones, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Apple FaceTime, and Facebook Messenger video chat. Public-facing platforms – such as Instagram, Facebook Live, and TikTok – are not allowed.



What are the challenges of teledentistry?

While the benefits of teledentistry are significant, there are also several challenges. To start, not all states have laws allowing teledentistry. Since laws vary from state to state, it is imperative to verify all regulations surrounding teledentistry with your State Board of Dentistry before proceeding.

  • Physical Examination Limitations: While teledentistry can expand access to quality care for patients in remote or underserved areas, certain dental conditions require a physical examination and direct intervention. Treatment procedures such as cleanings, restorative, endodontic, orthodontic, and oral surgery necessitate in-person visits.

  • Technological Barriers: The adoption of teledentistry relies on patients having access to reliable internet and necessary devices. The digital divide, especially in rural or low-income areas, may hinder implementation of this approach.

  • Patient-Provider Relationship: Building trust and establishing a strong patient-dentist relationship is essential for patient care and retention. Some patients may feel more comfortable with in-person visits to foster rapport and personal connection.



CDT codes reporting teledentistry



Carefully review the description of each code to ensure you are coding for the appropriate modality. For support with teledentistry – and a WHOLE lot more – grab your copy of Dental Administration with Confidence 2023.


Will teledentistry impact the future of dentistry?

In conclusion, as technology continues to advance and society embraces digital solutions, teledentistry is likely here to stay and will become an integral part of modern dentistry. Many patients experienced its benefits firsthand during COVID-19, leading to increased acceptance and demand for virtual dental visits. Additionally, ongoing advancements in technology using AI will further enhance the capabilities of teledentistry.

While teledentistry can play a significant role in preventive care, follow-up appointments, minor consultations, and oral health education, it is important to note that teledentistry will never replace traditional dental care. Rather, teledentistry will work in tandem with in-person visits. By combining the benefits of remote care with in-person quality of care, dentists can achieve an even more comprehensive and patient-focused approach to oral health for years to come.


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