Interview: “We want to reinvent the way patients think of dental treatment”
Described by its creators as the UK’s first dental video calling app, Tooth Fairy was recently recognised as “App of the Year” at the 2019 Dental Industry Awards. Dental Tribune International thus spoke with Dr Deepak Aulak, co-founder of Tooth Fairy, about the app’s benefits and future direction.
Dr Aulak, what are the benefits that Tooth Fairy provides patients?
Every year, millions of patients find it difficult to access a dentist. This can be because of time constraints or because they’re unsure of how to access dental care out of hours. Tooth Fairy is the UK’s first dental app to be regulated by health professionals and offers patients the facility to consult with new dentists anywhere in the UK or with their own dentist at a time that suits them. We utilise patent-pending technology to ensure patients can access a dentist on demand.
What kinds of consultations can take place through this app?
Patients can video call a dentist for an initial consultation, or receive specific dental advice. Through the app, patients can showcase their malocclusion and discuss different types of orthodontics. Another use is to showcase the interocclusal space between arches and discuss different types of space closure such as bridges or implants. Discussions related to costs, treatment risks and benefits can be conducted at a convenient time for patients, and the app offers a solution for patients who have mobility issues or dental anxiety.
The Tooth Fairy technology can be used for a range of purposes and encourages follow-up physical examinations and appointments through the transfer of notes directly to patients. Free educational videos are also available, on topics such as cleaning around wisdom teeth or managing extraction sockets.
What has the feedback from users been?
The app was evaluated by NHS patients. There was a high approval rating from the patients, and 91% reported that they would utilise the app. Seven out of ten patients reported that they would recommend the app to family and friends. The success of this study was presented at the 2019 International Association for Dental Research General Session and Exhibition in Vancouver in Canada. We have a strong, viable app and through testing on patients and scientific studies, we strive to make sure our patients’ lives are changed.
How does it feel to be recognised for your innovation with this award?
We are very humbled and encouraged. The judges who made up the panel have decades of experience within the industry and come from different dental areas. They are established leaders with proven records within the dental industry, and the awarding of this prize has given us additional validation. We are confident that we can make a positive difference and improve the care of our patients.
What’s in store for Tooth Fairy in 2020?
We want to reinvent the way patients think of dental treatment and how they are able to access it. In the 21st century, patients should not have to resort to DIY dentistry or to waiting in A&E [the accident and emergency department] for dental assistance. We, the founders of Tooth Fairy, have worked as dentists in different areas, including London, Portsmouth, Birmingham and Cardiff. We have experienced first-hand the “postcode lottery” that patients experience. As dentists, we have learned to help patients whenever we can, not just 9–5 p.m. and on weekdays. This app helps retain continuity in care and promotes a positive attitude towards the patient’s dental treatment. With the number of new recruits to the dental profession having dropped by 20% in the past few years, technology such as Tooth Fairy will help bridge the gap.