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Virtual Dental Home

The Virtual Dental Home system is demonstrated at Magnolia Head Start Preschool in East Palo Alto, Calif.

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Science and Technology

California Teledentistry Bill Signed Into Law by Governor Brown

The Pacific Center for Special Care at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry developed the Virtual Dental Home system, which the bill was designed to support.
Oct 21, 2014

Among bills signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown of California at the end of Sept., was Assembly Bill No. 1174, which permanently expands Medi-Cal coverage to pay for dental services provided by hygienists and dentists connected over the Internet.

The Pacific Center for Special Care at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry developed the Virtual Dental Home system, which the bill was designed to support. The Center has partnered with a number of funding organizations to implement a statewide demonstration project to bring oral health services to underserved populations using the Virtual Dental Home system. These populations range from children in Head Start Centers and elementary schools to older or disabled adults in residential care settings or nursing homes throughout California. 

Virtual Dental Home
Under the Virtual Dental Home model, specially trained dental hygienists in advanced practice, dental hygienists in public health settings, and dental assistants provide dental care to underserved populations in a community setting, such as a school, community center, nursing home or group home.

The so-called teledentistry law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, also permanently expands the list of procedures that hygienists and certain kinds of assistants can perform without a dentist being present onsite, including determining what X-rays are needed or providing a special type of temporary fillings designed to stop the progression of tooth decay. The law also calls for dental assistants and hygienists wishing to perform these duties to complete approved training programs.  

The bill was written by Assembly member Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima).  

"We're very thankful for the broad range of individuals and organizations that have supported the Virtual Dental Home project and this legislation," said Center director Dr. Paul Glassman. "The next challenge is to be able to spread this system by training providers across California to perform these duties, to work in telehealth-connected teams, and to bring good oral health to so many people who do not have it now."   

The Pacific Center for Special Care is a health research center within the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry committed to improving the oral health of underserved people on the local, state and federal level. It has created best-practice models of, and advocates for, improved access to dental care for anyone who faces challenges receiving oral health services through the traditional oral health care system.  

The Pacific Center for Special Care will host a lunch and learn event at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry's San Francisco campus on November 12, 2014, to share details about how the new law affects the future of the Virtual Dental Home project and creates opportunities for dental professionals. All Pacific Dugoni students, faculty and staff are invited. More details will be shared as the event gets closer.  

For more information about AB 1174, teledentistry, the Virtual Dental Home and the Pacific Center for Special Care, click the links below. 


For more information, contact:  San Francisco campus Office of Public Relations, 415.929.6434, pr@pacific.edu