In-Person versus Virtual Orthodontic Visits
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, virtually delivered healthcare has been an essential and necessary aspect of daily life for millions of people.
Thanks to recent advances in telehealth, medical examinations and conversations with your doctor have become possible from the comfort of your own home.
Similarly, orthodontists around the nation have faced the challenge of delivering quality care to patients through the ever-expanding venue of teleorthodontics.
Teleorthodontics allows orthodontists to conduct consultations, check-ups, and routine adjustments with their patients virtually through the internet using Zoom or regular phone calls.
The capacity to deliver excellent oral and dental care virtually is a major milestone in the world of orthodontics.
Virtual Care: The Future of Orthodontics?
Despite the benefits that come with this new vehicle of providing virtual orthodontic care, there are some drawbacks.
It should be stressed that virtual meetings cannot adequately replace the value of receiving the in-person, hands-on, thorough treatment that can only be provided in an office by a qualified and board-certified orthodontist.
Because of this, there remain several distinct limitations of teleorthodontic treatment. If you are considering opting for virtual versus in-person care, their limitations outlined below may prove helpful to know.
Virtual Consultations, Examinations, and Diagnoses
Consultations are an essential part of each patient’s orthodontic experience. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that dental and orthodontic treatment should not occur before a physical, in-person examination/evaluation of the patient. Your first, free consultation is important, and potential patients will receive the best quality of care by being seen physically before treatment begins. It also allows them to be able to ask questions with Dr. Redford or Dr. Burke.
What Happens During My Consultation?
During this first meeting, the patient will have orthodontic records taken, meet the doctor, undergo a brief examination of their mouth and jaws, and have time to discuss treatment options and the doctors advised plan.
The patient will have ample time to discuss questions and concerns regarding orthodontic care, financial arrangements, or how long the treatment is expected to take. Our board-certified doctors and well-trained staff are happy to answer the questions you may have during this important meeting.
Limitations of Virtual Consultations
For virtual consultations, individuals take pictures of their teeth and bite themselves. While this is not as thorough or precise as when done by an experienced records technician in an orthodontic practice, it is the best that can be accomplished virtually.
Using these pictures, the doctors form their professional opinion on how the treatment may proceed.
There can be drawbacks, considering pictures taken by a non-professional on a camera or cell phone are not extensive and can be distorted or blurred at certain angles.
Because of this, an accurate diagnosis is more complicated to obtain. The treating doctor might miss something inside the patient’s mouth or with the patient’s bite using this method.
A blurry picture or a bad angle could provide an image that is not relaying a condition correctly. This do-it-yourself method of record taking often provides a limited view of the patient’s mouth and jaw area.
Importantly, virtual consultations do not allow for x-rays to be taken. These important images provide critical information that contribute to making an accurate orthodontic diagnosis and treatment plan.
Consequently, virtual examinations may allow for an initial, broad idea of what may be recommended and tentative course of treatment, but they should not be used to make a final diagnosis and treatment plan.
How are In-Person Consultations Better?
Consultations done in an orthodontist’s office are guaranteed to be far more thorough, accurate, and detailed than a virtual visit.
In-person, our doctors can effectively examine a patient’s mouth and detect problem areas that may not have been visible to the patient themselves or on a simple set of photographs remotely.
In office consultations also give the opportunity to take diagnostic x-rays. X-rays are critical as they reveal information that affects the health and well-being of teeth and the surrounding bone and gum tissue.
Evaluating professional records (photos and necessary x-rays) and conducting a brief clinical exam allows our doctors to quickly assess and recommend their professional and best course of treatment options with accuracy and ease.
Patients often find comfort in speaking face-to-face with our doctors and discussing any pressing concerns or questions they may have. This initial meeting leaves people feeling relaxed, knowing they are with experienced and well-trained doctors.
This same feeling of comfort and reassurance can be hard to establish online during a virtual appointment.
While online consultations were essential at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, now that offices are open, Burke & Redford Orthodontists recommend coming in for a one-on-one consultation. Steps are made for cleanliness and sanitization of our offices, chairs, equipment, as well as wearing masks and following all other safety protocols.
Limitations in Treatment
Teleorthodontics remains a viable solution in times of urgent, worldwide crises, such as with COVID-19.
However, it in no way replaces the value that can be obtained from a one-on-one visit with a board-certified orthodontist in our offices.
This is especially true when it comes to treatment.
While some minor adjustments to braces may be done carefully by the patient (when instructed by the orthodontist), most adjustments should be done in person by our doctors and experienced clinical staff.
Dr. Ryan Redford and Dr. Michael Burke have a stellar reputation and offer great care to achieve great results in a safe manner using the latest braces technology, like Damon braces.
What is Best: Virtual or In-Person Care?
During the current pandemic situation, the safety of our patients and staff are the highest priorities at Burke & Redford Orthodontists.
If you are unsure whether you require virtual or in-person care, please call our office during regular business hours to speak with our front office about your options.
Our doctors are happy to make recommendations, so you feel safe and healthy while in our care.
Our staff and doctors look forward to working together with patients during this time. We deliver outstanding orthodontic care, and pride ourselves in doing so in the safest possible way.