Ali SA, Al-Qahtani AMA, Al Banai SR, Albaker FJ, Almarri AE, Al-Haithami K, Khandakji MN, El Ansari W
Telemed J E Health - (-) - [2022-03-24; online 2022-03-24]
Introduction:The lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic rendered teledentistry (TD) necessary to maintain the continuity of oral health services and avoid missing emergency dental conditions, while minimizing face-to-face visits. Our objective was to evaluate the ability of a newly introduced triage-based TD service to deliver its goals, by evaluating its processes and outcomes and assessing the demand for TD. Methods:This cross-sectional report assessed the triage processes and outcomes (triage category, referral to emergency/dental facility undertaken, remote medications prescribed, and procedures performed at the point of referral); and evaluated the demand for the newly introduced TD service during 5 months of the first wave of the pandemic. Results:Of 850 calls, about 70.6% of the samples were managed remotely; 29.4% were categorized as emergency/urgent and referred to the emergency/dental facility. Compared with other complaints, orofacial dental pain was the most common reason for the calls (41.6%, p < 0.0001). About 14.71% of callers received prescription for medications remotely. The most demanded disciplines were general dentistry, orthodontics, and oral surgery, respectively (p < 0.0001). Of those referred to a dental facility, 31.84% required no clinical intervention, 28.7% received orthodontic appliance repair, and 14.3% and 11.2% had urgent dental extractions or root canal treatments. Demand on the service fluctuated through various distinct stages of the lockdown. Conclusions:There has been continuous demand for the newly introduced TD service throughout the period of the current report despite the fluctuations, with most complaints managed remotely. TD was effective and suitable for triage, service delivery, and care during the pandemic.