Several models of tele-dentistry are emerging. It seems they are commonly based on getting the patient to come to the dental practice where the cumbersome conventions of tapping the tooth to check for decay, and measuring pocket depth and bleeding-on-probing to evaluate gum disease, can be performed.

Tele-dentistry is emerging quickly. What model will most motivate the patient to pursue timely oral healthcare?

But is there a way of identifying the patients most at risk of poor oral health — before they need extensive and expensive surgical care? In other words, is there a prodromal phase of poor oral health when a call from the hygienist can alert the patient of the need to take preventive measures now rather than waiting until more oral healthcare and medical care are needed?

A German study reports there are a number of simple questions which will identify those most at risk of severe periodontal disease, including:

  • how many extractions have you had?
  • have you recently had a cavity?
  • do you have a bridge or crown(s)?
  • how old are you?
  • have you ever smoked?
  • are you a diabetic?

But that is only part of the outreach over the phone. The other part is all about the reasons for calling.

The reason for calling is not that the patient is due for a checkup of their pocket depths, their number of bleeding spots, their accumulation of plaque …

The reason for calling is the importance of avoiding poor oral health and the commensurate risks of unstable diabetes, increased risk of cognitive decline, more hypertension, the risks of atherosclerosis and stroke ….