Background Access to dental care is important for overall health, but can remain problematic for those in rural or isolated locations. It can be difficult to encourage clinicians to choose or continue a rural health career. Teledentistry is showing some promise as a strategy to support rural, isolated and new health care workers. This study aims to explore the quantitative and qualitative framework associated with teledentistry in an effort to uncover the interaction of multiple influences on its delivery and sustainability. Methods A systematic search of the literature was undertaken and studies were included if they evaluated consultative teledentistry, reports on implementation of teledentistry in practice or attitudes to teledentistry. Studies were evaluated qualitatively. Results Thirty-nine studies were included focusing on the accuracy, effectiveness or description a teledentistry project in practice. Five main themes were identified in the qualitative analysis: (1) using information and communication technology (ICT), (2) regulatory and system improvements, (3) accuracy of teledentistry, (4) effectiveness, including increasing access to clinical services, efficiencies and acceptability, and (5) building and increasing clinical capacity of the dental workforce. Conclusion Teledentistry provides a viable option for remote screening, diagnosis, consultation, treatment planning and mentoring in the field of dentistry. Rapidly developing information and communication technologies have increasingly shown improving cost effectiveness, accuracy and efficient remote assistance for clinicians. There is high acceptability for teledentistry amongst clinicians and patients alike. Remuneration of advising clinicians is critical to sustainability.