Author: Khalifa S. Al-Khalifa | Rasha AlSheikh
Teledentistry is believed to improve dental care provided to patients and time management efficiency. In addition, teledentistry can be a useful tool for peer education, consultations and ensures proper channeling for referrals.
This study aimed to explore Saudi Arabian dental professionals’ perceptions of teledentistry’s benefits in improving dental practice and patient care.
A descriptive cross-sectional study involving an electronic survey of a sample of Saudi Arabian dental professionals. A validated 26-item, 5-point Likert-scale questionnaire was used to assess perceptions of dental professionals in four domains: usefulness of teledentistry for patients, the usefulness of teledentistry for dental practice; the potential of teledentistry to improve practice; and existing concerns about the use of teledentistry. Statistical analyses involved descriptive statistics, bivariate analysis using SPSS software. Significant differences were considered at a p-value of 0.05.
With an overall response rate of 28.6%, 286 dental professionals participated in the study. More than 70% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that teledentistry would improve dental practice through enhancing communication with peers, guidance and referral of new patients. A substantial proportion of respondents (60–70%) expressed uncertainty with technical reliability, privacy and diagnostic accuracy. The participants’ qualification was statistically significant with usefulness of teledentistry for patients (p = 0.027), while work experience in years was statistically significant with both usefulness of teledentistry for dental practice and patients (p = 0.046 and <0.0001 respectively).
Generally, the feedback gained by this study showed readiness of the dental professionals to be engaged in the teledentistry approach. Further investigation of the business model of teledentistry is needed to understand the readiness and challenges. Directed campaign to educate dentists and the public of the technology and it is potential is necessary.
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