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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-4

WhatsApp use in dentistry: Future prospects

Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication12-Apr-2016

Correspondence Address:
Sachin C Sarode
Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2348-2915.180104

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How to cite this article:
Sarode SC, Sarode GS. WhatsApp use in dentistry: Future prospects. J Dent Res Rev 2016;3:3-4

How to cite this URL:
Sarode SC, Sarode GS. WhatsApp use in dentistry: Future prospects. J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Feb 5];3:3-4. Available from: https://www.jdrr.org/text.asp?2016/3/1/3/180104

One of the most successful and important technological innovations made in this century is instant messaging services available on smartphones. The most popular one is WhatsApp. Whether it is a boon or bane for human being is highly debatable and not within the scope of this editorial. However, researchers have found it to be immensely useful in clinical practice of medicine as well as dentistry. Credit also goes to extremely sophisticated and efficient cameras associated with smartphones that help to capture excellent high-quality images of clinical pictures, X-rays, computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging, cone beam computed tomography, and even histopathology. Sharing of patient data via messenger service is an excellent tool for obtaining second opinion on diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and follow-up of the patients. In this regard, "group chat" and "broadcast" facilities on messenger services are like icing on the cake for generating healthy discussion of difficult/interesting cases. Researchers such as Petruzzi and De Benedittis [1] and Zotti et al. [2] have statistically proved its efficiency in dental settings. Petruzzi and De Benedittis [1] studied WhatsApp as a telemedicine platform for facilitating remote oral medicine consultation and improving clinical examination. While Zotti et al. [2] demonstrated the usefulness of WhatsApp in improving oral hygiene compliance in adolescent orthodontic patients.

Time has come to exploit this revolutionary potential tool further for the benefit of humankind.

Most important target for exploitation could be oral cancer which is spreading like anything in Asian countries, especially India. [3] Even after tremendous molecular advancement in oral cancer research, we are still not succeeded in improving prognosis and mortality rate of the patients. [4],[5],[6] The only way to fight against this deadly menace is prevention and early detection of oral cancer. [7] WhatsApp can be used at the time of community survey on oral cancer detection, wherein second opinion can be sought for suspicious cases of oral cancer. Faster second opinion will aid in early detection of oral cancer. The unique aspect of oral cancer is its association with oral potentially malignant disorders. [8],[9] Oral cancer is preceded by myriads of oral potentially malignant disorders in many cases, which have varying etiologies and clinical pictures. [10],[11] Patients with such disorders can be constantly in touch with their dental specialist via WhatsApp (continuous follow-up) for any change in the clinical appearance of the lesion without wasting any more precious time. Moreover, patients can take their selfies of the oral lesions and seek opinion from the experts. Every dental college, national health department, and nongovernmental organization should come up with their helpline numbers wherein patients can send their photographs for the first or second opinion. We believe that this will have a drastic impact on oral cancer burden from all over the world.

Another interesting area to exploit with the use of WhatsApp is forensic odontology. The incidence of mass disasters has increased in recent years and its credit goes to global warming, increased air transportation, terrorist attacks, communal violence, etc., In mass disaster, victim identification becomes the most important issue because of religious and humanitarian reasons. Recently, in our paper, we have proved the role of forensic odontology in world's major mass disasters. [12] Victim identification in such situations is purely an exacting science that involves matching of postmortem with antemortem data. Antemortem records are usually available to the general dental practitioners and dental institutions in the form of oral clinical photographs, restorations, radiographs, dentures, casts, etc., WhatsApp can play a pivotal role in faster sharing of these data in the form of photographs with the forensic personnel at the site of disaster. This will help in faster identification of the victim, which can be then handover to the relatives for further procession. Early identification of victim will also reduce the complications associated with "putrefactive changes in the dead bodies," which is highly detrimental to other people living in the nearby vicinity.

In medical field, it is said that "when you are in doubt, do not guess." Hence, second opinion has its own place in medicine and dentistry and is very much needed for patients' benefit. The field where second opinion is most frequently needed and plays an important role is "histopathology." [13] In actuality, second opinion in histopathology consumes a lot of time that can lead to diagnostic delay. For benign lesions, diagnostic delay possesses no problem, but for malignant lesions, it is a "prognostic" nightmare. Such "second opinion" related diagnostic delay can be avoided with the help of WhatsApp. Photomicrographs captured from compound microscope on smartphone can be used for obtaining second opinion. But, can smartphones click photomicrographs? The minimum specifications nowadays provided on smartphones are 3X zoom, 5 megapixels, and around 600 × 600 resolution with autofocus facility. These specifications are more than enough to click clear and interpretable photomicrographs from compound microscope. However, we strongly believe that in histopathology, it cannot be a substitute for conventional "slide in hand" kind of second opinion, which is more accurate and reliable.

Finally, we would like to suggest WhatsApp as a tool for improving students' academic performance. In academic activities, "doubt-clearing sessions" are an age-old technique wherein an hour is designated to the class for clearing their academic doubts. In such situations, students have to wait for this "doubt-clearing session" to solve their academic queries which can lead to loss of interest in the subject. But, we believe that students, through WhatsApp, can clear their doubts much faster, thus speeding the process of learning. This involves sharing of phone numbers with the students and probably some teachers may not feel comfortable in sharing their personal numbers.

In conclusion, WhatsApp has revolutionized the communication style in medical and dental field and doctors look more comfortable with it. With this aspect in mind, we have suggested few possible future prospects for WhatsApp use in dentistry. Although this glamorous messenger service appears to have very successful journey ahead, it cannot be used as a substitute for the conventional method. Future studies in aforementioned directions are recommended to bring more clarity on WhatsApp's future prospects in dentistry. One may not know, there could be a new branch of dentistry in the near future called "WhatsApp Dentistry."

  References Top

Petruzzi M, De Benedittis M. WhatsApp: A telemedicine platform for facilitating remote oral medicine consultation and improving clinical examinations. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol 2016;121:248-54.  Back to cited text no. 1
Zotti F, Dalessandri D, Salgarello S, Piancino M, Bonetti S, Visconti L, et al. Usefulness of an app in improving oral hygiene compliance in adolescent orthodontic patients. Angle Orthod 2016;86:101-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
Sarode SC, Sarode GS. Is oral cancer unique in terms of chemotherapeutic and targeted drug metabolism? J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2015;73:4-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sarode GS, Sarode SC, Patil A, Anand R, Patil SG, Rao RS, et al. Inflammation and oral cancer: An update review on targeted therapies. J Contemp Dent Pract 2015;16:595-602.  Back to cited text no. 4
Sarode GS, Sarode SC, Patil S. Accept and respect the uniqueness of oral cancer. World J Dent 2014;5:v-vi.  Back to cited text no. 5
Sarode SC, Sarode GS, Patil S. Personalized medicine: The future of cancer treatment. World J Dent 2014;5:v-vi.  Back to cited text no. 6
Sarode SC, Sarode GS, Karmarkar S. Early detection of oral cancer: Detector lies within. Oral Oncol 2012;48:193-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
Sarode SC, Sarode GS, Karmarkar S, Tupkari JV. A new classification for potentially malignant disorders of the oral cavity. Oral Oncol 2011;47:920-1.  Back to cited text no. 8
Sarode SC, Sarode GS, Tupkari JV. Oral potentially malignant disorders: A proposal for terminology and definition with review of literature. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol 2014;18 Suppl 1:S77-80.  Back to cited text no. 9
Sarode SC, Sarode GS, Tupkari JV. Oral potentially malignant disorders: Precising the definition. Oral Oncol 2012;48:759-60.  Back to cited text no. 10
Sarode SC, Sarode GS, Karmarkar S, Tupkari JV. Oral (mucosal) potentially malignant disorders. Oral Oncol 2012;48:e35-6.  Back to cited text no. 11
Sarode SC, Zarkar GA, Kulkarni MA. Role of forensic odontology in the world's major mass disasters: Facts and figures. Dent Update 2009;36:430-2, 435-6.  Back to cited text no. 12
Sarode SC, Sarode GS, Karmarkar S, Kalele K. OP (Oral Pathologist) inion matters. Oral Oncol 2012;48:e47-8.  Back to cited text no. 13

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