Like so many other industries, dentistry is rapidly evolving to suit patient needs. The traditional experience of going to the dentist has changed quite a bit over the past year due to Covid-19 precautions. The coronavirus, however, may have only accelerated a sea change in an industry that was already embracing new methods.
In response to patient demands for more convenience and greater transparency, virtual smile design was born. This innovation makes the most of advanced technology to create a digital representation of a patient’s smile. The dentist can then change the images to show how the patient would benefit from a treatment plan. The best part is that the design process takes place virtually.
How It Works
Basically, a virtual smile consult includes three steps:
- Patient uploads photos of their smile – during this step, you take photos of your smile (smile selfies) on your mobile phone and email the attached photos to the dentist. The advantage is that it doesn’t require any special medical equipment. Good digital photos are all that’s necessary for a dentist to assess your specific needs and plan your treatment virtually. If you need help, have a friend or family member take some photos to get different angles of your smile. It also helps to include what you would like changed or improved.
- Dentist reviews photos and records personalized video consult – after the office receives your photos, the dentist records an in-depth, personalized video describing what can be done to improve your smile. A video allows the dentist to be thorough and honest in detailing a course of treatment and whatever limitations certain procedures may have. He can also go into greater detail about costs, length of treatment, and how many office visits might be required.
- Patient can view the video and schedule appointment – after you look at the video from the comfort of your own home, you can contact the office to schedule the recommended procedure(s). You can also ask any questions you may have prior to your visit.
Advantages of Virtual Smile
This technique has a number of advantages over traditional in-office dental care.
- Shorter office visits – by allowing a dentist to prescreen patients before visiting the office, they can spend less time in the chair while still getting the same results.
- High-quality treatment from the comfort of home – a virtual assessment means that the patient receives treatment options customized to their dental situation without ever having to step outside their home.
- Stronger Connection between doctor and patient – meeting virtually gives dentists and patients a chance to connect outside of the office setting and establish a comfort level that will make office visits much easier.
- New Level of Convenience – with 24/7 access, virtual assessments enable you to choose what time works best for your schedule. They are also HIPAA compliant, so your information remains secure, and your privacy is protected.
Essentially, modern technology has pushed dentistry to operate more fully in the virtual world. In response to patients who want to choose dental treatments the way they book rooms on Airbnb or shop on Amazon, the industry has shifted to enable patients to see the result of their smile makeover even before starting it. By allowing patients to consult with a dentist about their smile without ever leaving their home, virtual smile design makes it easier than ever to get personalized, high-quality dental care.