Tele-dentistry project for public dental services in rural Victoria

Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) plans to introduce a tele-dentistry service for public patients living in rural and remote parts of the state.

The project will involve a clinical alliance between dentists at community dental agencies and specialist staff from the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne (RDHM).

DHSV plans to develop pathways to allow RDHM specialist services to work with community dental clinics to develop the most appropriate treatment plan for patients who would have traditionally had to travel to Melbourne for care.

The project, which is supported by the Department of Health and Human Services, will also identify the most appropriate equipment and IT services needed for the delivery of tele-dentistry across regional Victoria.

DHSV CEO Deborah Cole said it would allow DHSV to deliver dental services to remote and at risk communities who find it difficult to access general dental services.

“Tele-dentistry is bringing dental care to patients who find it hard to access dental treatment, such as those who need to travel long distances to get the care that they need,” Dr Cole said.

“We’re keen to extend our reach to patients whose dental health is at risk because they are currently unable to or find it difficult to access care.”

Victoria also has two other tele-dentistry projects underway, including one for paediatric patients living in rural and remote areas and the other to test whether nurse-administered tele-dentistry examinations would prove acceptable to patients in residential aged care facilities.

Organised by the CRC for Oral Health, the paediatric tele-dentistry project is looking at whether patients with cleft lip and palate or dental trauma or in need of orthodontics could be examined and assessed remotely by specialists from Melbourne's Royal Children’s Hospital or the Melbourne Dental School.

The aged care project involves five registered nurses at three different RACFs who were trained to provide dental examinations using an intra-oral camera. The idea is to overcome the shortage of dentists who visit aged care facilities as well as the difficulty of transporting often frail residents to dental clinics.

Both of these projects use a mixture of technologies including intra-oral cameras, video conferencing and store-and-forward methodologies.

Posted in Allied Health

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