Researchers developing new dental app to help you avoid trips to the ER

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- If you've ever had a dental emergency after hours but couldn't get in to see a dentist, help could be on the way.

A team of researchers mentored by Dr. Thankam Paul, of the Indiana University School of Dentistry and the Regenstrief Institute, has developed a mobile application that allows a patient to take images from inside the mouth and answer questions about their dental emergency.

The original author of the study, Corey Stein got the idea to create the DentaCom app after having a dental emergency over the weekend.

"When we have dental emergencies often times people go to the er which may not be that useful because they're treated just for pain relief not for eradicating the problem," Dr. Thankam said.

The app will ask you a series of questions to identify how you should be treated. After that you'll be asked to take a picture of your mouth for further review. The dentist will then decide if you can be treated immediately or if you can wait to get into the office.

"Depending on the nature of the problem and based on the information the dentist receive they're able to decide yes they might be able to call in a prescription over the weekend."

In the study all the participants were able to navigate the DentaCom app in order to give a dentist enough information to see how urgent their issue was within four minutes.

The app was a success during the study. The next phase is to ask dentists if the information was useful enough to help them treat patients by answering questions on an app and seeing photos of their mouth. Researchers say taking their time and doing it right is key so it could be another couple of years before the DentaCom actually hits the App Store.