Smart Tech’s Ability to Increase Access to Dental Care
By Lucy Wyndham
Nearly 114 million people in the United States lack any sort of dental coverage. More than merely a question of lack of access to dental insurance, this epidemic is sometimes caused by a lack of qualified dental professionals as well as the inability to even make it to the doctor’s office in the first place. Increasing accessibility as a society, both in terms of mobility and economic accessibility, is the first step in resolving this pressing issue and giving millions of American men, women and children access to an important medical service.
Providing Greater Access to Dental Studies
Increasing the opportunities for those hoping to become dentists to study in environments suited to their needs is the first step in increasing accessibility to dental services. Educational institutions are currently only accessible by a portion of the population. With nearly a billion people living with disabilities, this excludes a large portion of the world who don’t have access to educational spaces and are losing out on the opportunity to make a change. Integrating smart technology into these learning spaces in the form of mobility-friendly stairlifts that can be voice-controlled, motion-sensitive doors, and even wearable tech that can increase mobility are all solutions to a barrier-free educational system that allows any willing student to learn more effectively and efficiently. Once that problem is resolved, the market for qualified dentists won’t be so scarce and that will undoubtedly lead to a change in the cost of services.
Assistive Technology Crossing Professional Boundaries
The idea of accessibility goes even further, however, as advocated for increasing access to oral health care have actually argued that expanding the scope of practice of dentists and physicians might solve the problem. If these medical professionals are allowed to study beyond their concentrations, they could cross professional boundaries and train as both dental and medical professionals to increase their ability to perform services outside of their traditional scope of practice. Smart assistive technology could help with this, as it would be able to guide physicians on how to more accurately detect cavities, for example. Dentist-developed artificial intelligence could highlight areas of risk by using data sets to scan and understand the radiographs provided by physicians, thereby giving them more power in treating dental issues in a timely manner.
Increase Access for All
Increasing access to dental health services begins by ensuring anybody who wants to learn how to provide those services has the opportunity to do so. Enhancing the accessibility to and inside of educational institutions will increase the amount of qualified dental professionals available to treat underserved populations. Then, assistive smart technology can make these jobs easier to diagnose and treat, making it more possible for medical professionals to engage in cross-professional studies and practices. What this does is create an environment in which more dental care is more available to anybody of any ability and economic level, and that’s what this is really all about.