Q: [School-Aged] I know dental health is important, but finding the time and a nearby pediatric dentist who accepts Denti-Cal and can accommodate my busy work schedule is tough. What options are there for convenient dental care for both me and my child?
A: Orange County recently received a major grant from the state to tackle exactly what your question addresses: increasing access to pediatric dental care. The teledentistry program, provided by Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County, will eliminate many barriers to quality dental care, such as lack of transportation, proximity to Denti-Cal provider, or parents unable to miss work for children’s appointments.
The new teledentistry program was launched this week in Anaheim. A virtual dental home will operate at more than 80 school and community sites across the county. Onsite, dental hygienists and assistants will provide professional cleanings, fluoride varnish applications, sealants, and if necessary, temporary medication to keep a child from pain and infection until more definitive treatment can be accomplished. All care provided at schools through the program will be free to Denti-Cal patients. The mobile dental team also collects electronic digital x-rays and photos of the mouth, as well as, a complete dental and medical history. These diagnostic records can then be sent to a pediatric dentist, via a secure website, where they are reviewed and a dental treatment plan is created that will be carried out for present and future oral health care needs.
The Children and Families Commission of Orange County applied for, and received the grant recognizing that dental health for young children is very important. In fact, dental disease is the most common chronic illness among children nationwide, resulting in more than 51 million lost school hours each year. Convenient dental care for families and children on Denti-Cal is rolling out now across the county through an innovative, virtual model called teledentistry.
This major grant will increase access to prevention and early intervention services in a convenient way to make sure your child’s dental health needs are met. The grant will bring these services directly to the child at school, where they already spend much of their day. It will also pay for technology and training at six community health centers to provide teledentistry. Establishing good oral health at a young age provides lifelong benefits for your child!
Richard Mungo, DDS is a pediatric dentist and the Vice Chair of the Children and Families Commission of OC, the lead partner in teledentistry across Orange County. The innovative program is being funded by a $12.2 million grant from the California Department of Health Care Services. www.occhildrenandfamilies.com