We investigated the factors influencing the utilization of teledentistry among dentists to improve the effective use of teledentistry in clinical work. Further, we provided suggestions to promote the development and improvement of teledentistry in the dental industry.
We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study using an electronic survey in a sample of Chinese dental professionals. We designed 17 electronic questionnaires to evaluate the basic information of the dentists and four areas of perception in dentists: knowledge and attitude of the teledentistry, medical needs, teledentistry participation satisfaction and telemedicine use. We summarized the survey results using descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression analysis.
601 dental professionals participated in the study. 90.8% of dentists were aware of teledentistry, but only 51.7% agreed that teledentistry was effective in practice. The utilization rate of teledentistry was 59.1% in the previous year. The factors affecting teledentistry use were gender (OR=1.57, P<0.05), daily working hours (OR=1.86, P<0.05), level of knowledge (OR=2.50, P<0.05), consultation needs (OR=0.46, P<0.05), technology (OR=1.90, P<0.05) and network (OR=1.86, P<0.05).
Teledentistry should be combined with digital dental technology (e.g. 3D printing and CAD/CAM), visualization technology (e.g. VR/AR) and 5G technology to provide dentists with better technical standards and network transmission to help diagnose and treat patients. Simultaneously, we should pay attention to the associated factors such as understanding the degree of teledentistry, relevant demographic and sociological characteristics and working hours. Considering the current progress, we should optimize the process and efficiency in the teledentistry to increase its utilization among dentists.