The campaign resulted from the concern of the Ordem dos Médicos Dentistas (OMD) with the growing offer of medical and dental services on the internet without the intervention of a dentist, including orthodontic self-treatment in which the patient puts in their own device.
“All this comes from the participation of several colleagues and also of some patients regarding the growing offer of dental services”, through online advertisements, which misrepresent “the principles of medical practice”, said the chairman of the OMD.
Miguel Pavão explained that orthodontic treatment has “some complexity” and requires “knowledge of the facts by the dentist and also a close and highly committed follow-up” by the specialist.
“You can never dispense with any type of diagnostic consultations, planning, evaluation and control, and what can never be at stake here is the patient taking crucial steps towards that same diagnosis”, he warned.
Miguel Pavão exemplified that there are cases in which the patient himself performs the self-assessment, through selfie photographs.
“In certain cases, it is the patient who makes impressions [study models] for himself, who makes the record of the arch and the shape of his teeth, and this really has some risks for the patient and calls into question errors in this diagnosis and obviously throughout the treatment plan”, he stressed.
After this procedure, the devices (generally aligners) are sent to the patient by mail for a fee, and the monitoring of the progress of the treatment takes place, mostly or exclusively, without physical contact between the dentist and the patient.
Although the Portuguese Dental Association has already conveyed this concern to the Health Regulatory Entity, it has decided to launch a campaign aimed at the population to warn of “the serious consequences of these procedures, whether results of inferior quality, the need for additional treatments or, in the most serious cases , irreversible damage to oral health”.
“Teleconsultation treatments are foreseen in many cases and now with the pandemic there have been quite a few and with good reason. However, we can never reverse what are the requirements of medical follow-up and consultations with fundamental steps for diagnosis and treatment”, he defended.
The OMD emphasizes that it is essential not only to evaluate the evolution of the treatment, but also to detect possible complications early, such as undesirable tooth movements, root resorption, problems that affect the gums and the support of the teeth or other intraoral pathologies.
Miguel Pavão advises patients to know the name of the dentist responsible for the treatment and to ensure that they have direct contact with the professional, as well as to reject these treatments, which can only be performed by dentists registered with the Order.