Behind the Case: Trained Dental Hygienists Can Help Coordinate Care Using Teledentistry

| 6 min read

Good oral health has an obvious and strong connection to dental hygiene. Dental hygienists using teledentistry are helping produce those results.

Hygienists who receive hands-on training in teledentistry protocols are equipped to increase its usage for patient care.

An example is the Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) Department of Dental Hygiene. Thanks to a grant, they’re using Teledentix Enterprise “…to help manage patient engagement, appointment bookings, and virtual screenings.”

Where recognition is due - new care innovation emerges

The North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative (NCOHC) deserves recognition for CVCC including teledentistry in their hygiene curriculum.

They understand that teledentistry helps eliminate the barriers that exist between the public and their access to dental care - starting with a hygiene visit. This is the stated mission of the NCOHC.

It’s also where the value of teledentistry exceeds what was initially discovered during dentistry’s COVID-19 pandemic era. And this creates new paths for dental hygienists who recognize the potential of virtual dental care.

Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH, educational consultant, and a dental hygiene podcast host confirms,

"Teledentistry is perfect to help bridge the gap,…I think it's going to open up our hygiene scope of practice to help us get patients the care they need." [1]

How dental hygienists can coordinate and deliver innovative care using teledentistry

As you know, your dental hygiene department is often the “launch point” of a patient’s treatment plan. Teledentistry extends their skills beyond the physical office setting to the virtual space.

And with that expanded reach comes more opportunity to provide care for patients who otherwise might not seek in-person preventive dentistry or a diagnosis.

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Hygienists can “test-the-waters”

Some teledentistry adopters dive in immediately. They recognize the potential of virtual care and are equally comfortable with the technology from the get-go.

Others, and perhaps most, adaptive dental hygienists would benefit from pacing their relationship with teledentistry.

  • Experiment with the virtual environment in the comfort of your dental operatory
  • Test-drive the technology and de-bug your systems and workflows around it
  • Exemplify the applications of teledentistry for the broader team of hygienists in your practice and to hygiene colleagues

Hygienists can help set virtual care standards and teledentistry workflows

In some instances your dental hygienists can become the practice’s virtual care “quarterback.” Their capacity to be the technology leader relies on a few core factors.

  • An understanding of what’s expected from the virtual data that’s acquired during a virtual visit
  • A next step plan for how the teledentistry consult interfaces with the potential clinical protocols
  • A grasp of how to gather clinical and patient response data in a virtual environment

Hygienists can keep compliance in-check

Your dental hygienists (as do you and your dental assistants) understand the value of accurate and compliant clinical documentation. Hygienists trained on a dedicated teledentistry platform that synchs with your dental practice management system will meet HIPAA standards.

Hygienists have options for expanded hygiene in states that allow it

A dental hygienist trained in teledentistry can expand their patient reach as well as that of your practice. Independent hygienists and those with collaborative agreements provide direct-access care solutions to patients.

State allowed collaborative agreements allow hygienists to…

  • Provide basic oral hygiene treatment without prior authorization by a dentist
  • Meet the patients predetermined care needs without direct dentist supervision

Collaborative agreements are useful in areas that are underserved. They also help fill care gaps when providers are lacking.

Hygienists inclined to pursue an independent hygiene role within a collaborative agreement have opportunities and the support of teledentistry.

  • Care barriers are removed and patient perspective about dentistry can improve
  • Care mobility is enhanced and possible through mobile dentistry and teledentistry technology

The role of the dental hygienist is evolving. Teledentistry is making it possible for hygienists to improve care access within a dental practice or to reach new patients who might otherwise go without preventive care.

Explore these hygienist-themed teledentistry resources:

Top Questions About Independent Hygienists and the Role of Dental Collaborative Agreements

How to Become an Independent Hygienist Using Teledentistry and Mobile Dentistry Services

Direct Access Dental Hygiene is Creating a New Day for Hygienists and Filling the Care Gap

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