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Teledentistry 101

If you can’t make it to the dentist, teledentistry can be a helpful option. Teledentistry, or virtual dentistry, enables dentists to consult and offer advice to you through your phone, text messages, videoconferencing software or smartphone applications.

How does teledentistry work?

Teledentistry allows dental offices to provide you with care and diagnoses when on-site visits are limited or not possible.

With teledentistry, you and your dentist can discuss and address your problems to determine if you need to schedule an in-person visit.

With some virtual dentistry tools, you can even receive expert advice without an appointment by sending in photos or written questions for the dentist.

What is teledentistry good for?

Teledentistry can be a great way to consult with a dentist when an in-office visit isn’t possible. Teledentistry may be especially useful for:

  • People with mobility issues
  • Those who live in rural communities
  • Residents in long-term care

Dentists can determine through consultation whether or not you have an emergency dental problem, and they can provide instructions on how to treat certain conditions.

If you have a cracked or chipped tooth, soft tissue lesion (bump), small cavity, jaw pain or similar non-emergency condition, a virtual dentistry consultation through phone or video may work for determining next steps. If you need urgent treatment, you will likely need to schedule an onsite visit.

What are the limitations of teledentistry?

When it comes to your oral health, there’s no real substitute for in-person interaction with and examination by a dentist. And teledentistry often places the burden on the patient to explain problems. An in-person examination of your mouth is still the best way for a dentist to evaluate problems and determine the best next steps. 

4 steps to use teledentistry services

Once you’ve decided you’d like to use teledentistry, take these steps:

  1. Contact your dentist. Contact your dental office to find out if virtual dentistry services are offered and how appointments are scheduled.
  2. Get set up. Ensure that you have the right technology (such as conferencing software or a mobile app) for any video and audio communication with your dentist.
  3. Fill out any required paperwork. This might include an intake form, patient consent and new patient form if it’s a first-time meeting.
  4. Know your rights as a patient. Educate yourself on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines to protect your privacy and the confidentiality of your health information.


Get to know Delta Dental’s virtual dentistry tools

If you’re covered under a Delta Dental PPOor Delta Dental Premier® plan, you have access to two teledentistry platforms:


If you’re looking for a quick diagnostic report, Toothpic is a photo-based platform that will let you submit a few photos of your mouth anywhere, anytime and hear back from a Delta Dental dentist within 24 hours.

Just use your electronic device (computer, smartphone or tablet) to answer a few questions about your dental health and snap a few pictures of your teeth and gums. Toothpic will connect your case to a dentist who will provide personalized treatment recommendations.

Delta Dental – Virtual Consult

If you have more urgent needs or you want to speak with a Delta Dental dentist in real time, Virtual Consult is a video-based tool that lets you schedule a virtual appointment. The dentist will speak to you about your needs and concerns, guide you through an exam of your mouth and can even prescribe medication if necessary.

Last updated December 1, 2022

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.