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Virtual Dental Home

The Virtual Dental Home system developed by Pacific's Center for Professional Care brings oral health care services and education into community sites for the benefit of those who have difficulty accessing health care services, including individuals with disabilities.

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Pacific expands oral health care services for individuals with disabilities

Jul 12, 2018

The Pacific Center for Special Care is committed to improving the oral health of underserved people throughout California and nationally. Under the leadership of Dr. Paul Glassman, it creates best-practice models and advocates for improved access to dental care for those who face challenges to receiving oral health services due to medical, physical, social, economic, geographic or other circumstances.

Housed at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, the center is known for its groundbreaking Virtual Dental Home System of Care, a community-based approach that delivers oral health in locations where people live, work, play, go to school and receive social services. The system uses telehealth technology to link specially trained dental hygienists at community sites with dentists in dental offices and clinics.  

In 2017 alone, the center received more than $3.5 million in new grants to support expansion of the Virtual Dental Home System. The funding supports work to improve oral health for people with disabilities served by the California Regional Centers, development of value-based payment methodology and expansion activities with partners across the West Coast and Hawaii.  

"This level of support from multiple federal, state and private funding sources indicates that Pacific's work in these areas is being recognized as an important strategy for focusing the oral health system of the future on achieving better outcomes and lowering the cost of doing so," said Glassman.  

Another way the Dugoni School of Dentistry makes an impact is through its highly regarded Special Care Clinic, one of few clinics in Northern California serving people with developmental disabilities, including low-income and racially diverse patients.  

The school's Special Care Clinic and hospital dentistry program recently received a three-year $120,000 grant from the Palo Alto-based WITH Foundation to increase the number of professionals trained to deliver high-quality oral health care to people with developmental disabilities in the San Francisco Bay Area. It will support patients who have moderate to severe conditions across four broad areas: cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, genetic abnormalities, and seizure disorder.    These funds will allow the dental school to provide rigorous education and experiential learning opportunities to more than 570 dental and medical students, residents, scholars and pharmacy externs. As part of their clinical training, they will handle an estimated 13,870 patient visits over three years.    

"Getting dental care for people with a disability can be very challenging for parents and caregivers," said Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi, dean of the Dugoni School of Dentistry. "We are grateful that this funding will help us provide even more training to support the health care needs of people with developmental disabilities and allow our residents and students to develop skills that will benefit thousands of patients now and well into the future."  

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