The Northland region of New Zealand is the country’s least urbanised area, with the majority of its population living in rural areas. Northland children have some of the highest dental disease rates in the country. They and their whānau regularly face challenges accessing timely care—the Community Oral Health Service (COHS) in Northland relies on patients and whānau travelling (typically long distances) to dental clinics for assessment and treatment.
Teledentistry has considerable benefits for patients, practitioners and the health system. The most notable is improved patient access to assessment and treatment, and delivery of preventive oral care. Teledentistry provides opportunities for the timely diagnosis and treatment of serious oral health issues, thus reducing (or preventing) future hospitalisation; and facilitates patient engagement and education.