Teledentistry Pilot Helps Students

Underserved populations have the majority of dental disease since they don’t take advantage of the traditional dental system. In Polk County, Oregon alone, only 34 percent of Polk county students have had a dental visit in the last 12 months. Also, there are long wait times for appointments plus transportation issues preventing frequent dental care.

Linda Mann Director of Community Outreach for Capitol Dental Care describes Polk County as a poverty area where few dental offices will take Oregon Health Plan patients.

A new teledentistry pilot targeting 1,500 children was put in place in the Central School District of Polk County in Oregon. This was accomplished with a teledentistry grant for $111,714 through the Oregon Health Authority Federal State Innovation Model grant.

The project’s objective is to provide diagnostic, preventive, and early intervention services through the virtual dental home for 70 percent of children enrolled in K-2nd grade in the Central School district and two Head Start programs in Polk County.

The funding established a pilot to use telehealth technology to link dental hygienists in the community with dental offices to provide access to the full dental team. Most of the grant funds went towards consulting fees to the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and the University of the Pacific to design the pilot.

So far, parent and provider feedback has been positive and the equipment used has been reliable and easy to use since all you need to provide care is a laptop, software, portable X-ray unit and a camera.


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