Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Health Services Research


Health Services Research

Committee Director

Bonnie L. Van Lunen

Committee Director

Denise M. Claiborne

Committee Member

Susan J. Daniel

Committee Member

Tina Gustin

Committee Member

Yen Cherng-Jyh


Shortages of dental professionals and access barriers to dental care are challenges to improving oral health and decreasing the burden of dental diseases. There are more than 57 million individuals in the U.S. who live in dental health professional shortage areas (DHPSA). The U.S. DHPSA areas need 9,951 dental practitioners to overcome the obstacles to oral care access. Due to dental care needs for these populations, it is imperative to find a new method to reach these underserved populations. Teledentistry is an innovative technology that can be used to improve access to care and oral health outcomes. Unfortunately, there is still limited utilization of teledentistry in dental practice in the U.S. Many studies have investigated factors associated with the applications of telehealth and telemedicine; however, limited investigations have addressed the barriers to the use and implementation of teledentistry.

The overarching purpose of this dissertation was to explore factors associated with the future use of teledentistry among predoctoral dental students. To achieve this purpose, three interrelated projects were conducted. The first project involved a systematic review to investigate the validity of using teledentistry in dental practice. The second project examined demographics, individual characteristics, and prior experience with teledentistry associated with U.S. dental students’ intention to use teledentistry in their dental practice. The final project utilized the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology model (UTAUT) to predict the future use of teledentistry by evaluating U.S dental students’ behavioral intention to use teledentistry in practice.

The systematic review confirmed that a teledentistry oral diagnosis was comparable to face-to-face diagnosis and suggests the need for methodologically designed studies with appropriate statistical tests to further investigate the validity of teledentistry. Project II results indicated that dental students with prior teledentistry experience were more likely to utilize this technology in their future practice. Project III identified that the UTAUT model significantly predicted dental students’ behavioral intention to use teledentistry. All the UTAUT constructs were significantly associated with dental students’ behavioral intention. Findings from these three projects indicate that exposure to teledentistry while in dental school increases the likelihood of use as a licensed dentist.