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Smartphone App Links Patients and Dentists in Dental Emergencies

Patients experiencing a dental issue when the dentist’s office is closed might not have to rush to the emergency department.


Patients experiencing a dental issue when the dentist’s office is closed might not have to rush to the emergency department, thanks to a prototype smartphone app developed by a team of university students. According to its developers, the mobile application DentaCom provides dentists with key details of a possible dental emergency.

                GRAPHIC BY COREY STEIN

First author Corey Stein, now a dental student at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, conceived the idea when he experienced a dental emergency. The app guides patients through questions designed to capture clinically meaningful data to help the dentist decide what care is needed — and how urgently. Patients can also capture and transmit clinical images of the oral cavity. The team found that all users were able to complete DentaCom’s questions and photos within four minutes.

Thankam Thyvalikakath, DMD, MDS, PhD, director of the Dental Informatics Core at Indiana University School of Dentistry, mentored the team that developed and tested the app. She served as senior author of the paper, “A Prototype Mobile Application for Triaging Dental Emergencies,” which appeared in The Journal of the American Dental Association. The authors were at the University of Pittsburgh at the time of the study. For his part, Stein earned the American Dental Association’s 2016 Robert H. Ahlstrom New Investigator Award.

From Decisions in Dentistry. January 2017;3(1): 13.

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