Master of Science in Dentistry
Purpose: Orthodontic patients were surveyed to determine the perceived value of doctor-to-patient face-to-face interaction, the desire for convenience and attitudes toward specific uses of teledentistry.
Methods: Participating private practice orthodontists emailed the survey to active patients. 75 self-pay patients from VCU Orthodontic clinic were also invited to complete the survey. Patients 18 years or older were asked to complete the survey regarding their own treatment. Parents of patients under age 18 were asked to complete a separate survey regarding their child’s treatment. Questions asked patients about the importance of face-to-face interaction with their orthodontist and their preferences for the inclusion of teledentistry in their treatment. Responses were compared based on patient characteristics (adult vs child, braces vs clear aligners, etc.) using chi-square tests.
Results: 388 respondents from 8 orthodontic practices participated in the survey. 85% of parents considered face-to-face interaction to be important and 85% said that their child’s treatment fit conveniently in their schedule. Adult responses were 86% and 89%, respectively. Adult preference for face-to-face was significantly higher than parents (83% vs 78%, P=0.038). Adults treated with clear aligners were less likely to strongly agree that their treatment fits conveniently in their schedule (51% vs 76% in braces, P=0.0490) and were more likely to be interested in utilizing teledentistry (27% vs 18% in braces, P=0.0429).
Conclusion: Most orthodontic patients prefer to be seen face-to-face. This is due to a high value placed on face-to-face interaction with the orthodontist. Most patients do not consider their treatment inconvenient. Patients prefer that teledentistry be used to enhance communication as opposed to replacing face-to-face interaction. Implementation of teledentistry in orthodontics should be applied on a patient-to-patient basis with continued emphasis on the doctor-patient relationship.
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