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How COVID-19 will impact the future of dentistry

March 16, 2020
With many dental practices closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, dental professionals are looking at mobile dentistry and teledentistry with a new perspective.

As I sit at my dining room table, working from home and simultaneously holding unexpected mom duty, I listen to the latest news updates and am beginning to comprehend that our communities are being forced to face a situation so unique and so rare that it has brought fear in the hearts of many.

As we dive headfirst into the COVID-19 pandemic, the stock market is plunging in a way it hasn’t for more than a decade, and our nation feels like it has been thrown off course. Schools are closing indefinitely, travel bans have just been enacted, and it’s next to impossible to find household staples like toilet paper and bread. Collectively, we are being forced to face the negative ramifications of living in the digital age—an age in which the world is flat, an age in which we don’t think twice about traveling from one country to another, and an age where convenience is the driving force in our decision-making.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming readily apparent that the dental industry is not immune to these negative ramifications. Dental conferences have been canceled, face masks have been rationed, and dental practices are struggling to keep patients in their chairs and will soon have to close their doors. When will this end? What will our communities look like months from now? What will the long-term effects be?

To prevent further spread of the coronavirus, health-care providers across the world are now relying on mobile services, coupled with telemedicine, to provide for continuity of care. That said, this past week I’ve also been knee-deep in conversations with dental hygienists, dentists, and dental-practice owners who are now looking urgently for ways to think outside of the box because their patients are so fearful, no longer willing to venture out of their own houses and walk in the dental practice door. Never before has it been more obvious that dental organizations must embrace mobile dentistry, coupled with teledentistry, to adapt to a changing society.

Ironically, the first annual National Mobile Dentistry Conference just took place two weeks ago, and at that gathering came the launch of the American Mobile Dentistry Alliance—the nation’s professional association for mobile clinicians and mobile organizations. With these two resources and with the innovative products and services now available for mobile clinicians, it has never been easier for the dental practice to successfully and quickly implement mobile delivery and telehealth into their current model of care.

Though it is still too soon to even consider the positives that may eventually come from the coronavirus pandemic, the fact is that sometimes it takes fear for us to understand the true value of something. Right now, those of us within the dental industry are encountering and understanding first-hand the value, the need, and the demand to offer mobile dentistry and teledentistry for our patients.

The following is a list of trusted resources for those that have questions regarding mobile dentistry or teledentistry:

Editor's note: Visit RDH's coronavirus resource center here.

Melissa Turner, BASDH, RDHEP, EFDA, is a valued thought leader and dental advisor. Cofounder of the first annual National Mobile Dentistry Conference, she is the creator of I Heart Mobile Dentistry, a Facebook support group for clinicians practicing mobile dentistry. Turner is executive moderator for the Dental Peeps Network and can be reached at [email protected].  

About the Author

Melissa Turner, BASDH, RDHEP, EFDA

Melissa K. Turner, BASDH, RDHEP, EFDA, is a fresh force of change and is on a powerful mission to transform the future of dentistry for both patients and practitioners. She is a fractional executive and advises companies and DSOs on brand strategy and product growth. A top millennial influencer and KOL, she is cofounder of The Denobi Awards, the National Mobile & Teledentistry Conference, and the I,Woman podcast. Reach Melissa at melissakturner.com.

Updated May 22, 2023