professor of dentistry and director of the Pacific Center for Special Care, during the first training of dental hygiene educators in the state in teledentistry
Pioneers in teledentistry
hanks to innovations in oral health developed by the Pacific Center for Special Care at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, the poor, the elderly and uninsured children in California will have greater access to dental care.
The training was made possible by a new teledentistry law, AB 1174, which was informed by the work of Paul Glassman, a professor of dentistry and director of the Pacific Center for Special Care, and the efforts of center staff.
Pacific’s model to improve access, called “virtual dental home,” made major strides forward last year in reaching the state’s neediest populations by bringing dental care directly to them. With the advancements, California continues as a national leader in teledentistry.
The law took effect last January and authorizes hygienists to become certified to decide which dental X-rays to take before a new patient sees a dentist. It also empowers hygienists to apply ITRs after being directed to do so by a dentist using cloud-based electronic health records.
Last summer, Pacific began training dental hygiene educators from dental hygiene schools around the state to place interim therapeutic restorations, or ITRs in patients. These educators — the first to be trained in California — are then able to teach the technique to their students. ITRs require no drilling or anesthesia and can delay tooth decay and the need for a traditional filling for several years or more.
In another initiative of the virtual dental home project, senior housing residents of Kingsley Manor in Southern California who face financial or other barriers to traditional care began receiving routine diagnostic and preventive dental services, including ITRs, right where they live. The initiative will expand to underserved residents at other senior housing communities and centers in Southern California in the months ahead. The care is made possible by a three-year, $275,000 grant from the California Wellness Foundation to Pacific.
“Today is ground zero, where dental hygiene educators are trained to do ITRs [temporary fillings] on live patients. From there, they will take that back to their classrooms and their respective colleges to train their students... with the ability of hygienists to do these ITRs, after being directed to do so by a dentist, countless Californians will have access to this care.” —Nabeel Cajee ’11, ’15, a College of the Pacific and Dugoni School graduate who participated in the training with Glassman
For more information about the virtual dental home project, visit www.VirtualDentalHome.org 24 | THE PACIFIC EXPERIENCE