coronavirus pandemic

How Does a ‘Virtual Dentist Visit' Work?

Dentists tell NBC 7 Responds they are turning to video calls before in-person appointments

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a big increase in the number of doctor appointments happening virtually. Local hospitals are holding hundreds of video calls with patients and now dentists are joining in.

"I've used versions of teledentistry for the last two years," said La Jolla Dentist Weston Spencer. "I can't get my hands in your mouth and do an exam, but I can see a lot."

Spencer started using technology even before the pandemic and said his patients caught on really quickly.

"Patients are actually pretty good taking a picture of their tooth and showing me what the problem is," Spencer said. "If you're at risk, being able to communicate with someone without having to come into the office is super important."

Patients will take a few pictures and send them in and sometimes Spencer will do a live video call as well to ask specific questions. The process helps streamline appointments. Spencer said even before sitting in the seat, his patients know exactly why they are there, what to expect, and how much the procedure will cost.

"So, when you come in, we're ready to go, we can get started right away," Spencer said.

Even though dentists are allowed to be open, most have only been treating dental emergencies. Spencer says that teledentistry is a way for patients to get answers and stay safe.

"If we can break down that barrier of feeling unsafe, not trusting where you're going before you come to the office, that's the whole goal of teledentistry."

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