A new program will help Maine kids get dental care more easily

Delly Bezoss

A trip to the dentist office is about to get a lot easier for thousands of kids in Maine. Tele-dentistry is about to hit the scene.Community Dental on Park Avenue in Portland will be among the participating partners when the program rolls out in the fall.Here’s how it will work: A dental hygienist will visit a school or daycare and examine the child with the latest technology. Intraoral cameras will be used to take images and those images will be sent back to the dentist who can determine next steps. The kids might be treated at school for cleanings and other minor issues. But if fillings or more advanced work is needed, they will need to go the dentist office.”There aren’t enough dental offices to service everyone in Maine,” said Becca Matusovich of Children’s Oral Health Network of Maine. “It frees up room in the dental offices for more people who need to get care in the office.”The Children’s Oral Health Network of Maine is helping to roll out this pilot project in nine counties. It will pair dental offices and hygienists with schools, head-starts and daycares.”So instead of having parents have to take time off from work and pull kids out of school to take them to a dental office for regular checkups – if they’re lucky enough to find a dental office that’s taking new patients and takes their insurance – instead, this model brings the dental team out to where the kids are,” Matusovich said.It’s a program that is already underway in other states. In California they found 75% of the dental care that children need can be done outside a dentist office.”Just as it’s more efficient for us to have an interview this way, it’s more efficient use of the dentists’ time,” Matusovich said. “It’s a more efficient use of parents’ time. It frees up room in the dental offices for more people who need to get care in the office.”They hope to roll out the pilot program come this fall. The Tele-dentistry program hopes to reach several thousand kids in the first two years. The pilot program is funded with federal dollars. Maine was able to secure $650,000 in grant money.Learn more about the Maine Virtual Dental Home model here.

A trip to the dentist office is about to get a lot easier for thousands of kids in Maine. Tele-dentistry is about to hit the scene.

Community Dental on Park Avenue in Portland will be among the participating partners when the program rolls out in the fall.

Here’s how it will work: A dental hygienist will visit a school or daycare and examine the child with the latest technology. Intraoral cameras will be used to take images and those images will be sent back to the dentist who can determine next steps.

The kids might be treated at school for cleanings and other minor issues. But if fillings or more advanced work is needed, they will need to go the dentist office.

“There aren’t enough dental offices to service everyone in Maine,” said Becca Matusovich of Children’s Oral Health Network of Maine. “It frees up room in the dental offices for more people who need to get care in the office.”

The Children’s Oral Health Network of Maine is helping to roll out this pilot project in nine counties. It will pair dental offices and hygienists with schools, head-starts and daycares.

“So instead of having parents have to take time off from work and pull kids out of school to take them to a dental office for regular checkups – if they’re lucky enough to find a dental office that’s taking new patients and takes their insurance – instead, this model brings the dental team out to where the kids are,” Matusovich said.

It’s a program that is already underway in other states. In California they found 75% of the dental care that children need can be done outside a dentist office.

“Just as it’s more efficient for us to have an interview this way, it’s more efficient use of the dentists’ time,” Matusovich said. “It’s a more efficient use of parents’ time. It frees up room in the dental offices for more people who need to get care in the office.”

They hope to roll out the pilot program come this fall. The Tele-dentistry program hopes to reach several thousand kids in the first two years. The pilot program is funded with federal dollars. Maine was able to secure $650,000 in grant money.

Learn more about the Maine Virtual Dental Home model here.

https://www.wmtw.com/article/maine-children-access-virtual-dental-services/39988627

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