Many patients and even dental professionals do not know the best way to deal with traumatic dental emergencies. The consequences of mishandled cases can be quite severe, ranging from pain to dental morbidity and tooth loss. Previous studies have shown that visual and audio education on dental trauma management is effective for educating both the general public and dental professionals. Taking advantage of the advances in mobile technology, many health apps have been developed. This study from the UK used the three most common mobile platforms to look at the available mobile apps on emergency dental trauma management and evaluated the quality of these apps — and tried to find the best dental apps.
Dental emergency apps were searched in the app stores of a Windows phone (Nokia Lumia 635, OS 8.1), an Android (Samsung Galaxy Ace II, OS v2.3.6 Gingerbread), and an iPhone (iPhone 5, iOS 8.1), using the keywords listed below.
- broken tooth/teeth
- chipped tooth/teeth
- dental emergency
- dental injury
- dental trauma
- fractured tooth/teeth
- knocked-out tooth/teeth
- tooth/teeth injury
- tooth/teeth trauma
The app descriptions from the search results were used to filter out apps that were “non-health” (gaming or utility-related apps), “medical apps” (general medical education apps), and “dental apps” (general dental education apps). In the end, there were only eight apps that fit the criteria for emergency dental traumas; seven from the Android app store, and one from the Apple store. These apps are listed below.
- AcciDent (Android)
- Chipped Tooth Solution (Android)
- Dental Crown Repair (Android)
- Dental Trauma (Apple)
- Fixing Cracked Tooth (Android)
- Repairing the Front Tooth (Android)
- Solution to Broken Tooth (Android)
Dental Trauma from the Apple store was the same app as Dental Trauma First Aid from the Android store. AcciDent was also available from the Apple store but was not recovered from any of the search words used in the study. AcciDent was the only app targeted exclusively to dental professionals. Dental Trauma/Dental Trauma First Aid was the only app certified by the International Association of Dental Traumatology (IADT). The other five apps were free and all from the same developer (KBES).
Best Dental Apps
The best dental apps in the study were AcciDent (Android @ $5.31 USD / iTunes (iPhone, iPad) @ $4.99 USD) and Dental Trauma (Android @ $3.08 USD / iTunes (iPhone, iPad) @ $2.99 USD). Researchers felt these apps contained valuable information well worth the cost of downloading the full version of these apps. However, consistent across all apps looked at in the study, real clinical photographs are missing.
From a user’s point-of-view, some limitations on deciding which app to use include the variability in users’ ratings and variability in the raters’ expertise on dental trauma. As a result, it is difficult to determine the validity, quality, and usefulness of the app. While mobile apps are becoming a common educational tool, traditional dental follow-up procedures by consulting dental professionals should still be used in addition to mobile apps.