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How to Find the Right Dentist for You
Many patients share the feeling that the worst thing about dental care is having to "see the dentist". TheUniversity of Florida has study program that "remote-views" dental patients anywhere in Florida while the dentist doing the examination is located in the Gainesville dental School. Would you feel better with the Dentist keeping a distance of several counties away?
The University of Florida created a study to determine if dental hygienists or assistants could remotely assess patients, sending information back to dentists and pathologists at the university’s School of Dentistry, in Gainesville, Florida.
The study, funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth at the Health Resources and Services Administration, helped the university understand that the model of remotely supervising and assessing dental patients would work.
Dentists use audio-visual equipment to talk to the patient and technician, understanding the patient’s history and symptoms. They also use images captured by digital video and still cameras to look inside a patient’s mouth.
“The dentists can’t touch the person, but they can visualize what’s there, or train the person on the other end of the camera to describe what they’re feeling,” Dolin said.
The high-resolution cameras and computers used by the Florida team worked very well, Dolin said, but noted that others could do similar work with a lower-resolution still camera and an e-mail account.
One area of particular success was with dental pathologists, Dolin said: two full-time pathologists on the dental school’s staff could provide services for remote communities that couldn’t support the position.
The university works with “partner clinics” across the state, some of which are up to five hours away. Teledental services could eliminate the need for many patients to drive to Gainesville for a consultation, she said.
“We’re trying to reach a low-income population in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the quality of care, but does it in a cost-effective way,” she said. “We’re working to develop different delivery models that use dentists in the most effective ways to come up with a better model, one that publically-supported programs could afford.”