Touro Dental Health, the 109-chair dental teaching practice at the Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM), is now offering free virtual dental visits for its patients of record. Following New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s guidelines, the teaching practice has suspended all elective or non-emergency dental care but has remained open on a limited basis as a community resource for its patients with dental emergencies.
“Virtual dental visits with a member of the Touro College of Dental Medicine faculty are an additional option for our patients to seek advice from a dental expert in real time from the safety of their own home,” said Edward Farkas, DDS, MA, vice dean.
“While not every patient will benefit from an online consult, in many cases we may be able to provide recommendations that can help reduce pain and symptoms at home, and we can determine if an office visit is truly necessary. Our goal is to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure for everyone involved while still ensuring our patients receive the care they need,” said Farkas.
Conducted via secure Zoom video conferencing, the virtual visits allow a dentist to assess the symptoms the patient is experiencing and, using the camera, to get a visual sense of any swelling or infection. Combined with a review of the patient’s medical history and previous x-rays, this information can help determine the next best steps for the patient, such as a prescription or an in-person intervention with a dentist, TCDM said.
If an office visit is deemed necessary, patients are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors prior to their visit and in person, including fever. Touro Dental Health has equipped its faculty and staff with CDC-recommended personal protective equipment including N95 masks, face shields, goggles, and other items for their safety and the safety of others.
“Our colleagues in the healthcare industry are working overtime to contain and treat the coronavirus. We applaud their efforts and sacrifices,” said Ronnie Myers, DDS, dean of TCDM. “With the dedication of a team of essential general dental practitioners, oral surgeons, and support staff, we have remained committed to providing emergency dental services both online and in person in an effort to reduce the burden on local hospital emergency rooms.”
TCDM has been exploring teledentistry over the past year, it said, noting an October 2019 DentaVox survey showing that patients are optimistic about the use of virtual care through telehealth services, with 78% believing they are likely to use it within the next five years.
“We launched our teledentistry program as a response to meet the demand for emergency care that continues to grow as the COVID-19 pandemic is prolonged,” said Myers. “But, as the nation’s newest dental school built on the latest technological advancements in the field, we see this new way of providing emergency dental intervention as a potential opportunity for our students to gain insight and hope to continue the service in the future.”