$400,000 Grant to Support Virtual Dental Home Development

Dentistry Today

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Access to dental care remains a challenge for many people with disabilities. The North Bay Regional Center (NBRC) aims to improve this access in Northern California via teledentistry by giving a $400,000 grant to the Pacific Center for Special Care at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. 

The funding will support the use of the Pacific Center’s Virtual Dental Home system throughout Sonoma, Napa, and Solano counties to provide diagnostic services, prevention, and early intervention care for people with complex developmental, medical, and physical conditions.

The Virtual Dental Home system connects licensed dental professionals who remotely provide preventive and simple therapeutic services in community settings with allied dentists working in their offices. For example, a hygienist may use a portable x-ray machine and laptop to take images and upload them to a server. The dentist then would access and view these images via the Web to diagnose any problems and develop a treatment plan.

In a 6-year pilot program, the Pacific Center has implemented the Virtual Dental Home system in 50 California Head Start preschools, elementary schools, community centers, residential care facilities for people with disabilities, senior centers, and nursing homes. It is now working with colleagues in Oregon, Hawaii, and Colorado to replicate the system.

NBRC is one of 21 regional centers for people with developmental disabilities in California. As a nonprofit private corporation, it contracts with the California Department of Developmental Services to provide or coordinate services and support for individuals with developmental disabilities. These regional centers are located throughout the state.

“Our hope is to significantly reduce the number of people with developmental disabilities in the North Bay who need to have dental procedures performed using sedation and general anesthesia,” said Paul Glassman, DDS, MA, MBA, director of the Pacific Center.

“Emphasizing preventive procedures in residential and community settings will improve the health of the individuals served in this system, lower financial and other costs, and support people living in community settings,” Glassman said.

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