Access Public Health Teledentistry

Teledentistry in North Carolina: Lessons from COVID-19

Depending on how long it takes to effectively respond to COVID-19, NCOHC is planning to host its annual Oral Health Day on June 3, 2020. This year, the theme of our signature advocacy event at the North Carolina General Assembly is teledentistry, with a focus on its use as a tool to increase access and equity in oral health care.

Our primary focus has been on how teledentistry can allow dentists to provide assessments and diagnostic care remotely, allowing them to reach patients in underserved communities

The North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners and the American Dental Association have both recommended that dental offices postpone all elective procedures for two and three weeks, respectively. While dentists and hygienists obviously won’t be doing oral cleanings or other routine, elective procedures virtually—education, assessments, and other diagnostic care and consultation could be provided remotely while waiting to resume in-person care delivery.

Simultaneously, hospitals and doctors’ offices across the country are struggling to meet demand, and we are seeing medical professionals forced to isolate after coming in contact with patients who have COVID-19.

Last week, the Telehealth Resource Center hosted a webinar about how health care organizations can use telehealth in response to COVID-19. You can watch the recorded webinar here.

For health care organizations, telehealth technology offers the ability to remotely monitor potential COVID-19 patients. Through phone screenings, virtual visits, and remote patient monitoring (RPM), providers can keep track of patients’ health and symptoms without any person-to-person contact. The same applications could be used in oral health care delivery as well.

Additionally, providers can use live video and RPM to care for inpatients, reducing points of contact.

To learn more about telehealth and how it can be used in response to COVID-19, you can access TRC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Toolkit here.

And to find out more about Oral Health Day and the steps North Carolina can take to help teledentistry become a viable option for remote oral health care, visit the NCOHC Oral Health Day 2020 page.

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