180 children a day have extractions under GA. Can Teledentistry save kids teeth?

180 children a day have extractions under GA. Can Teledentistry save kids teeth?

Telling a parent that their child needs multiple teeth removed is heartbreaking. Something I strive to prevent. Over the past week, there have been several concerning articles about rising figures of children’s tooth decay and the substantial cost it has to the NHS each year – more than 40m. Most children have at least one tooth removed, leading to over  44,685 surgical procedures in those 18 and under in 2018/19. 

These figures are problematic, and the worry becomes more prominent when considering the future. There’s a fear that during lockdown, many children have been indulging in more sugary snacks and drinks alongside interruptions to their oral healthcare education – disrupting preventative measures that might usually be in place. 

These figures suggest a huge problem, especially as it’s likely that more impoverished communities will be affected the most by dental decay—figures of decay rise to 34% in deprived areas, compared to 14% in wealthier ones. In response, the LGA is calling for extra funding for oral hygiene programmes. Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association, also said, “It’s inevitable these figures will go from bad to worse, as lockdown diets, the suspension of public health programmes and the collapse in access take their toll.” 

Prevention is key 

We know that the best way to improve oral health in the long-term is through prevention – but this is more challenging than ever when COVID has restricted visits to dental practices. 

Teledentistry was created with the potential “to eliminate the disparities in oral health care between rural and urban communities.” During the pandemic, WHO has acknowledged how telemedicine can benefit underserved communities because it “overcomes distance and time barriers between healthcare providers and patients. Further evidence points to socioeconomic benefits to patients, families, health practitioners and the health system, including enhanced patient-provider communication and educational opportunities.”  

At Chairsyde, we’ve said from the get-go that our mission is to improve oral health education for our patients – and one of the ways we’ve worked to achieve this is through teledentistry. Due to the nature of COVID, it’s vitally important that we consider ways of integrating Chairsyde Teledentistry into our communities to offer vital oral health education, preventing future dental decay in children at such a substantial cost to the NHS. After experiencing the uses of teledentistry around the world, we agree that we should ensure “access is available to vulnerable patients […] who may have difficulty accessing virtual services.”

Already, Chairsyde Teledentistry focuses on education – with a suite of animations, photographs and annotations that help patients to clearly understand their treatment and how to look after their oral health better. We’re now thinking of ways that we can cater our animations to children, using Chairsyde in schools to create a fun, easy to understand experience that’s vital for their oral health learning. By utilising our platform in this way, we can ensure children continue to receive their education while keeping our dentists safe and reducing the risk of their exposure. Furthermore, we’re able to educate children at school who might not have access to the internet at home. 

We believe that now is the time to bring the focus back to prevention and remote oral health education to create a healthier future for our children.

The “lipstick” effect – how dentists are experiencing a surge in demand for cosmetic work

The “lipstick” effect – how dentists are experiencing a surge in demand for cosmetic work

The “lipstick” effect is a theory that during economic crises, the sales of less-costly luxury goods will go up. It’s believed that this effect can be traced back to the Great Depression, where cosmetic sales continued even though many people were out of work and struggling financially. This continuation of purchasing has also taken place in WW2 (alongside a propaganda campaign to wear make-up as a patriotic duty) and after other historically significant events. 

At the beginning of lockdown, UK online beauty sales soared by an impressive 53%, supposedly because consumers were turning to self-care that they could manage at home. It’s now believed that this increase in sales is the beginning of a similar “lipstick” effect to those that have been recorded in the past. Instead of indulging in unnecessary luxuries, consumers are focusing on products and treatments that make them feel good about themselves and can help them to improve their lives from the comfort of their own home. 

Alongside this beauty-sale-boom, there has been a significant increase in the uptake of aesthetic and cosmetic surgeries. It’s believed that this is for two main reasons: that more people are becoming self-conscious after seeing themselves on Zoom, and that lockdown offers the opportunity for people to undertake and heal from procedures discreetly. Consequently, some cosmetic surgeries have seen appointments double since the beginning of March.

What does this mean for cosmetic dentistry? 

With the ‘lipstick effect’ in full swing, dentists are experiencing a surge in demand for aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry. It could be considered that this is due to several factors. With more dentists embracing the digital, patients are now able to consider and access the cosmetic and aesthetic dentistry treatments they might have been interested in without a trip to the practice. This means that patients can access professional, high-standard, and bespoke care from their dentists to ensure that they’re getting the quality treatment journey they need – all without leaving their house. 

Interestingly, booking for initial remote consultations for aesthetic and cosmetic treatments has seen a huge boom over the last few months. It’s believed that this is because remote appointments are accessible, take up little time, and are often cheaper than in-person consultations – meaning it’s likely that remote consultations will continue to increase in popularity after the pandemic.  

End-to-end teledentistry platform, Chairsyde, allows dentists to provide exceptional patient services remotely. With a package of animations, photographs, annotations, and a bespoke visual treatment journey for patients – dentists can provide aesthetic and cosmetic treatment options clearly and effectively. Already we’ve seen dentists experiencing up to a 32% increase in treatment uptake through using Chairsyde. 

It’s an interesting time to consider the ways that patients prioritise their spending and what matters most to them. Ensuring that as practice you’re in a position to facilitate your patients’ needs remotely and give them access to the services they need is vitally important.