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Pediatric Teledentistry Helps Children in Rural Areas Get the Care They Need

Senior dentist standing at her officeAccording to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should visit their dentist for a check up every six months in order to prevent plaque buildup, cavities, and other oral health problems. However, for children in rural and underserved areas, getting the proper dental health treatment can be difficult.

Given that children are likely to consume foods and drinks that contribute to dental decay — soft drinks, fruit juices, candy, and dried fruit — they can develop dental problems quickly. Failure to treat these problems can lead to a multitude of health issues such as gingivitis, cavities, and tooth decay.

Now, approximately 100 children who live in rural communities around the city of Rochester will be getting the pediatric dental care they need, thanks to teledentistry.

Dr. Sean Mclaren is a pediatric dental specialist at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health. There, he is conducting pedatric dental services remotely via video conferencing software for children in rural areas, saving parents hours of driving time.

Telemedicine is not limited to dentistry. Rather, a multitude of medical specialists are turning to telemedicine in order to remotely provide patients with care.

“I like this live interaction, because as a pediatric dentist, I want to see how children are behaving, how they’re responding to things. That’s going to help me judge treatment modality for a child,” Dr. Mclaren said to 13 WHAM.

While teledentistry practices were launched in 2010, they are now being used more frequently statewide. “Now, Dr. Mclaren is not restricted to just seeing patients who are able to come to him,” says Sirene Garcia of Finger Lakes Community Health. “He can reach anyone in New York State via video.”

While the concept of teledentistry may be novel, its success rates show huge promise. In fact, teledentistry has seen a 92% success rate in families following up with procedures and dental visits, proving to be positive for parents and children alike.

“We’ve seen several hundred children, and I’ve never had one that was uncooperative or couldn’t get through it,” said Marlene Allen, a hygienist from Sodus, NY. “This is a rural community. Going to Rochester can be a burden for some patients because of transportation and time off from work.”