Delivering dental care during a pandemic is tough, due to social distancing and equipment requirements, but you can maintain safe contact with your patients through teledentistry. In fact, you can plan your interactions so they are valuable for your patients and effective in your treatment.

Here are tips for conducting a successful consultation:

1. Scheduling

Give yourself time to prepare for the online/phone visit, to review patient records and x-rays.  Set aside enough time for your session to discuss issues, conduct an exam, and explain follow-up care.

2. Documentation

Have your patient fill out forms (intake, patient consent) ahead of the visit.  Note any problems or issues the patient has reported so you can focus your assessment.

3. Technology

Make sure your videoconferencing software is set up, with a web camera, and use a headset to keep your hands free for making notes or to demonstrate procedures. You can have images loaded for viewing with the patient. Ensure that your patient has the necessary internet connection for the visit. 

4. Environment

Make sure your background is quiet, so there are no distractions during the visit. You can position a source of light in front of your camera, and inform your patient to face natural light or a light source so you can view each other clearly.

5. Examination and tools

During the visit, when you are evaluating bite and oral health, give your patient instructions on what to do to facilitate your assessment.

You can direct the patient to position a metal or plastic spoon for retraction, use a mirror (compact or handheld dental mirror) for showing back of the teeth and posterior areas, and handle a flashlight or phone light for illumination. Your patient can use a wooden chopstick for bite testing and frozen wet cotton swabs for cold testing.

With preparation and a thorough approach, you can make a teledentistry visit fit into your seamless care delivery for patients when they are unable to make an in-person visit. It can be integrated into your practice, such as for postoperative exams, to keep your office chairs open for productive in-person visits.