Q: My child is having dental issues, but I don’t feel comfortable taking them to a dental office. What is telehealth and how can my family use this while we are all trying to social distance?
Dental decay does not stop progressing because of a pandemic. More than ever, it is essential to care for your family’s oral and overall health. In the wake of COVID-19, Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County (Healthy Smiles) offers a virtual service called telehealth to ensure families have access to oral health care while reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Q: What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth addresses the challenges of the pandemic by providing personalized dental services from the safety of your home. Families can virtually connect to a dentist through video conferencing or telephone services. A Healthy Smiles dentist can perform an oral health screening, address any dental concerns and educate families on dental topics while providing an empowering experience for children by reducing the fear of dental visits by virtually creating a face-to-face meeting. When the parent calls, a Tele Care Coordinator asks the parent a series of questions regarding their child’s teeth. The parent may then be asked to take photos of the troubled area. During the telehealth appointment, the doctor will address the photos and any urgent needs. The doctor can also provide necessary prescriptions or recommend and schedule an appointment at the clinic for serious concerns. This way, your family only comes into the dental office if necessary.
In 2016, Healthy Smiles started their teledentistry program, which directly brings dental services to patients in over 100 community sites and schools in Orange County. Due to COVID-19, services to all children are still accessible by delivering care through telehealth.
Ria Berger, MPA, is the chief executive officer of Healthy Smiles for Kids of Orange County, which offers dental treatment, oral health education, sedation services and outreach programs for children in Orange County.