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Abstract

Teledentistry provides a viable option for dental professionals to increase care in underserved areas. Dental hygiene students at a state university completed a course in teledentistry that includes performing oral health screenings on children using intraoral cameras and electronic submission of dental images to an off-site dentist for diagnosis. Purpose: The objectives of this study were to examine student knowledge, attitudes, and confidence levels before and after completion of a course on teledentistry. Method: A 5-point Likert scale survey consisting of 10 items was administered to students ages twenty-two to twenty-five (N=24) in a teledentistry course the first and last day of class. The survey included current knowledge of teledentistry, attitudes regarding effectiveness of teledentistry, and confidence in acquiring the necessary technical skills. Results: Survey results were analyzed using a matched-pairs t-test and Wilcoxon signed-rank test. There were significant increase in student knowledge, attitudes, and confidence in 9 of the 10 questions (p<.01). Conclusion: This study indicates that student attitudes were positively changed in their knowledge of the effectiveness of teledentistry in identifying dental needs in underserved areas, the role dental hygienists play in access to care, and confidence in acquiring and submitting dental images. These findings, in conjunction with research by other investigators, support continued implementation of teledentistry in dental hygiene education.

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