Q&A with Dr. Marc Ackerman: What’s next for teledentistry?

The benefits of adopting a hybrid model.

Dr. Marc Ackerman, DMD, MBA, FACD

In the following Q&A, Dr. Marc Ackerman, DMD, MBA, FACD, and Executive Director of the American Teledentistry Association (ATDA), discusses the latest research on teledentistry and shares insights for implementing a hybrid approach.

Q: Teledentistry is a relatively new concept in dentistry. What does the latest research tell us about telehealth dental services?
A: Teledentistry enables doctors to deliver convenient and affordable oral care to patients. Even prior to the pandemic, 98 percent of Americans saw value in teledentistry, and 70 percent of providers had already adopted telehealth solutions of some sort. The research tells us teledentistry will increasingly play an important role in oral care.

Q: Why are dentists and patients opting for teledentistry services?
A: While standard in-person appointments can take hours of a person’s day with travel time, only 17 percent of that time is actually spent seeing the doctor. Teledentistry allows us to optimize time for the patient while offering flexible scheduling and easy access to providers. For doctors, Teledentistry can reduce chair time, so you can see more in-office visits per day.

Q: How can dental practices take advantage of telehealth opportunities?
A: Simply put, by embracing a hybrid care model. Offering traditional in-office services and providing synchronous or asynchronous teledentistry for other services has emerged as one way to deliver on patients’ rising expectations and achieve the best of both worlds.

Q: Are leading-edge teledentistry solutions that provide therapeutics, like tele-orthodontic treatment, as clinically effective as in-office treatment?
A: Absolutely. It is clinically proven that telehealth, for things like the treatment of mild to moderate crowding with clear aligners, is just as effective in correcting as when conducted in office.

Teledentistry has emerged as an innovative way to overcome hurdles while providing convenient, affordable dental care. The hybrid approach continues to be the recommended plan for comprehensive dental care. A range of hybrid oral care solutions are available to dentists, including clear aligner treatment from telehealth leaders such as SmileDirectClub’s Partner Network.

Telehealth Partnerships in Action 

Loray Spencer, DDS, and Harvey Spencer Jr, DDS, strive to provide a one-stop-shop practice for all of their patients’ dental needs. But some services and treatments — like teeth straightening — were out of reach for many patients due to cost and accessibility, which is why they joined the SmileDirectClub Partner Network.

“SmileDirectClub’s Partner Network gives us the ability to offer a best-in-class option to those who have mild-to-moderate misalignments without sacrificing profitable chair time or in-office production,” they said. “The marketing expertise from SmileDirectClub gives us an advantage in attracting new patients to our office for clear aligners as well as other orthodontic, restorative and hygiene procedures.”