Assessment of an Innovative Mobile Dentistry eHygiene Model Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic in the National Dental Practice–Based Research Network: Protocol for Design, Implementation, and Usability Testing

Amid COVID-19, and other possible future infectious disease pandemics, dentistry needs to consider modified dental examination regimens that render quality care, are cost effective, and ensure the safety of patients and dental health care personnel (DHCP). Traditional dental examinations, which number more than 300 million per year in the United States, rely on person-to-person tactile examinations, pose challenges to infection control, and consume large quantities of advanced-level personal protective equipment (PPE). Therefore, our long-term goal is to develop an innovative mobile dentistry (mDent) model that takes these issues into account. This model supplements the traditional dental practice with virtual visits, supported by mobile devices such as mobile telephones, tablets, and wireless infrastructure. The mDent model leverages the advantages of digital mobile health (mHealth) tools such as intraoral cameras to deliver virtual oral examinations, treatment planning, and interactive oral health management, on a broad population basis. Conversion of the traditional dental examinations to mDent virtual examinations builds upon (1) the reliability of teledentistry, which uses intraoral photos and live videos to make diagnostic decisions, and (2) rapid advancement in mHealth tool utilization.