Your smartphone may soon be able to help you avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital in case of a dental emergency, thanks to a new app developed by researchers in the US.
The novel mobile application enables smartphones to capture and transmit images from inside the mouth, along with details on the dental emergency, to provide the information dentists need to make a decision on what — and how urgently — care is needed.
The new app, called DentaCom, guides individuals with real or suspected dental emergencies through a series of questions designed to capture clinically meaningful data via familiar smartphone functions.
“There are many challenges here that our app can help with,” said study senior author Thankam Thyvalikakath from Indiana University.
“It is a challenge for the patient to get the dental emergency appropriately managed, and not just treated by painkillers in a busy hospital ER by a clinician who is not a dental specialist. It is also a challenge for the dentist to get details of the problem,” said Thyvalikakath, who was at the University of Pittsburgh at the time of the study.
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, said the study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.
Dental emergencies frequently occur when dental offices are closed. Patients often turn to hospital emergency departments or urgent care centres.
But 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.
The new app can help patients avoid these problems.