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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 431-437

Awareness of, beliefs about, practices of, and barriers to teledentistry among dental students and the implications for Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 and coronavirus pandemic

Dental Public Health Division, Department of Preventative Dentistry, College of Dentistry, Head of Medicine and Medical Science Research Center, Deanship of Scientific Research, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Khalid T Aboalshamat
Dental Public Health Division, Department of Preventative Dentistry, College of Dentistry, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah.
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jispcd.JISPCD_183_20

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Objectives: Saudi Arabia launched multiple initiatives to overcome the problem of health-care access. The recent coronavirus pandemic created urgent demand to deal with the problem using nonconventional venues such as telehealth and teledentistry. This study aimed to investigate teledentistry knowledge, attitudes, and practices, and barriers to its use among dental students and teaching staff in Makkah province, Saudi Arabia. Materials and Methods: A total of 314 dental students participated in this cross-sectional study. Data were collected using a validated self-reported questionnaire to measure teledentistry awareness, attitude, practices, and barriers to teledentistry. The study was approved by Umm Al-Qura University, Saudi Arabia. Results: Only 17.2% were aware of the term “teledentistry.” However, after it was explained, participants were able to correctly answer 25.16%–62.42% of items about teledentistry. A total of 67.83% would practice teledentistry, and 70.7% support using teledentistry on a national scale for Vision 2030. Only 25.16% used teledentistry before, but 56.05% did dental consultations via smartphone. The most common barriers were patient satisfaction requiring a dentist’s physical presence, violation of patient privacy, and low levels of population education. Conclusion: Dental students seem to know little about teledentistry. However, they are open to learning and using it. It is encouraged to include the topic in continuing dental education, including how to use it during health disasters such as the coronavirus pandemic.

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