A new smartphone app can help avoid unnecessary dental emergency trip

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avoid unnecessary dental emergency trip

Have a dental emergency? Your smartphone may be able to help you avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital.

Researcher from the Indiana University have developed and tested a novel mobile application that enable smartphones to capture and transmit images from inside the mouth, along with details on the dental emergency.

This new app, called DentaCom, can provide the information dentists need to make a decision on what — and how urgently — care is needed.

The finding is published in The Journal of the American Dental Association and is featured on the issue’s cover.

DentaCom guides individuals with real or suspected dental emergencies through a series of questions designed to capture clinically meaningful data via familiar smartphone functions.

In the study, all participants were able to complete a guided report on their dental emergency and take photos of the problem region within four minutes.

All clinical information was successfully entered by prospective patients via DentaCom.

Researchers suggest that there are many challenges the app can help with.

For example, dental emergencies frequently occur when dental offices are closed. Patients often turn to hospital emergency departments or urgent care centers.

Most patients who go to these facilities are simply treated for their pain and referred to their dentist for proper care during office hours.

Valuable time may be lost before actual treatment is received, and the patient is billed for the emergency or urgent care visit in addition to whatever dental fees will be incurred.

In contrast to a physician’s office, a dentist’s office is hands-on and procedure based, and it can be difficult to add an emergent patient to the schedule.

The DentaCom app provides the detailed guidance that the dentist needs to determine the urgency of, and appropriately treat, the problem.

This app is a communication tool linking patients and dentists during emergency situations.

It is also beneficial in nonemergency situations when individuals, particularly those who lack dental insurance, need guidance. In addition, it can be useful in enhancing access to routine dental care.

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Citation: Stein CD, et al. (2016). A prototype mobile application for triaging dental emergencies The Journal of the American Dental Association, 147: 782-791.e1. DOI 10.1016/j.adaj.2016.03.021.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is credited to Corey Stein.