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Dentistry is a branch of medicine that needs separate attention of its own. With the pandemic and the restrictions that came along with it, virtual doctor appointments have become a norm. Tele-dentistry has made a mark in the dental industry due to this reason.

Medfuture focuses on integrating the latest technology in the healthcare industry by recruiting skilled professionals that are up-to-date in the latest development in the oral health and healthcare field.

Here is a look at the scope of tele-dentistry in Australia and how it works towards improving the dental industry.

Dental therapist practice in Australia

A dental therapist is a dental practitioner and is part of a dental team that has been registered with the Dental Board of Australia. He should have completed an approved bachelor programme in dental therapy and dental hygiene. Universities across Australia offer qualifications in both dental hygiene and dental therapy, and those who complete these fields of study are known as Oral Health Therapists (OHTs). Dental therapists in Australia are responsible for examining teeth, diagnosing any conditions, providing treatment plans, and referring other dental practitioners and specialists.

The following is the scope of practice for dentists in Australia:

  • Oral examination
  • Diagnosis of dental conditions
  • Preventive care
  • Operative care
  • Orthodontics
  • Oral surgery
  • Non-clinical procedures

Introduction to tele-dentistry in Australia

Tele-dentistry involves the transportation of real-time and pre-stored clinical information, including photography, digital imaging, and electronic health records to provide oral healthcare services. It is used in oral medical specialties, including diagnosis and non-surgical management of salivary glands and oral mucosal diseases, and malignancies.

There are some oral and dental health complexities that require the involvement of specialist dental practitioners instead of inexperienced dental healthcare workers. The pandemic brought about the challenge of managing such situations, which is where tele-dentistry played a crucial role.

Telemedicine in dental practice

The rapid advanced in information technology and the use of the internet have enhanced the benefits of telemedicine in dental practice. Tele-dentistry is an excellent solution for improved access to dental and oral health care. It is especially beneficial in remote areas where there is limited access to dental practitioners and quality oral health care services.

Tele-dentistry is using the latest ICT developments to provide tele-consultation, delivery of oral care, and continuing public awareness on oral health and related issues. It helps address various shortcomings that affect the oral care delivery system in Australia, including shortage of dental practitioners, poor infrastructure, and delay in delivery of care due to extended waiting lists.

Although the Australian dental industry is slowly entering the telemedicine field, the amount tele-dentistry programmes across the country has increased. However, there needs to be an increase in this, wherein it is slowly emerging due to reasons such as costs, surgery time, and security concerns related to this field of dentistry.

Facilitators and barriers of applying tele-dentistry in oral medicine

The following are the facilitators and barriers of applying tele-dentistry in dental and oral health care.


Tele-dentistry facilitators are divided into seven themes that include the following:

  • Information
  • Human resource
  • Skill
  • Financial
  • Technical
  • Administrative
  • Training and education


The barriers pertaining to tele-dentistry in Australia are also classified into six categories as follows:

  • Organisational
  • Environmental
  • Regulation
  • Clinical and
  • Technical barriers

Most of these barriers are from the patient’s part while the technical barriers are primarily barriers of applying tele-dentistry in oral health care.

Modalities of tele-dentistry before and after the pandemic

The pandemic had a great impact on the delivery of dental care in Australia. People living in rural and remote Australia were primary affected as result of lack of resources. At such a point, the value of tele-dentistry became imminent for diagnosis of dental disease among those living in rural and remote regions in Australia.

Benefits of tele-dentistry

The following are the benefits of tele-dentistry:

  • Enhanced access to oral care
  • Reduces waiting lists
  • Reduced costs
  • Provision of oral care services when physical access restricted
  • Increase efficiency of oral care service provision
  • Strengthens the relationship between oral care service providers and patients
  • Reduced burden on the caregiver’s perspective
  • Reduction in unwanted referrals
  • Valid and reliable way of screening for oral conditions
  • Minimised work and school days
  • Decreased pain associated with delayed dental and oral care treatments
  • Less distressing from the patient’s perspective

Limitations of tele-dentistry

  • The following are the limitations of tele-dentistry:
  • The need to ensure patient’s privacy and security
  • Technological and connectivity failures and limitations
  • Not a compete replacement for preventive oral health checks
  • Limited prescribing privileges
  • Financial costs involved with the technology and related facilities that are required
  • Limited network connective in rural and remote regions in Australia
  • Need to have strong communication and coordination between hubs
  • Poor quality in images and videos

Legal and legislative framework

Tele-dentistry services in Australia fall under the same clinical and ethical standards as face-to-face dental care appointments. It includes firm standards for patient consent, oral health data record maintenance, and patient privacy and confidentiality. The legislative framework and legal standards are stated in the AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) website.

Public health organisations are now more focused in employing tele-health managers and coordinators to provide help to dental practitioners and professionals to support the establishment and implementation of tele-health services, including tele-dentistry services.

Roles and responsibilities of dental practitioners in tele-dentistry in Australia

The dental practitioner managing the dental consultation is responsible for advising patients on the procedure to follow regarding their oral health conditions. It should help the patient to take an informed decision and consent to dentistry.

The healthcare professional at the patient’s end is responsible for the patient’s case management. This is unless alternative plans and arrangement have been made and documented. The dental practitioner at the patient’s end must provide proper handover to the dental practitioner at the provider’s end.

Record keeping in tele-dentistry in Australia

Documentation is essential by all health professionals involved at both ends of the tele-health consultation. This should be in-line with the legal requirements set by the AHPRA. If the remote dental professionals are outside of the PHOs, they should that the patient is registered and a patient record is created, before the appointment. If any patient cannot be registered in the external entity, remote oral health professionals must provide timely clinical notes that need to be uploaded at the patient’s end.

Video consultations should not be recorded. In the case that there is a requirement to record such a session, the oral care professional must obtain written consent and ensure that the recording is stored securely.

Privacy and security in tele-dentistry in Australia

The use and disclosure of health information must adhere to the standards set by the health authorities and related governing bodies of the relevant states. These standards and requirements are common for both face-to-face and tele-health consultations.

Telehealth communication must follow strong message encryption standards to ensure privacy, confidentiality, and security of patient data and related health records. Secure and approved video conferencing programmes must be used for tele-dentistry and all other forms of tele-health consultations. Approved platforms ensure that you are providing a private and secure environment to guarantee privacy to your patient and his data.

Application of tele-dentistry in Australia

There are two primary applications of tele-dentistry in Australia.

Live tele-dentistry services

Live tele-dentistry services include providing tele-dentistry services via consultation over the phone or video conferencing. Life tele-dentistry services can be provided in the following ways:

Dental practitioner to dental practitioner

Dental practitioner to patient

Patient to dental practitioner (This is patient-initiated care)

Store and forward tele-dentistry services

The store and forward method in tele-dentistry services makes use of electronic communication forms to obtain and store clinical data of patients. This data is forwarded to, or retrieved by, another dental practitioner for intervention, management, or advice of clinical review. Obtaining the patient’s consent is a must, before using store and forward tele-dentistry services.

Store and forward tele-dentistry services could be used by either a dental practitioner or patient.

Checklist for live tele-dentistry in Australia

Here is a checklist for live tele-dentistry services in Australia.

From the patient end

The room should be located in a private area and be quiet

The patient must be registered and the appointment should be made. The patient must have been provided with instructions set prior to the consultation

Technology in use must be appropriate and secure

The reliability of the patient’s internet connectivity must be ensured

From the oral care provider’s end

The room should be located in a private area and be quiet

Must ensure the patient is provided the relevant information prior to the consultation

Have technical support contact details available

Get in touch with Medfuture! Medfuture constantly strives to find qualified and skilled dental practitioners across all states and suburbs in Australia. Visit the Medfuture job board to view the latest dental practitioner jobs in Australia.

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