How one dental group practice used a teledentistry initiative to strengthen its ties to the community – and increase patient volume in the process.
Paul Labbe, DDS, is big on community outreach. He’s constantly looking for ways to bring his group practice out into the local towns, neighborhoods, and schools.
For instance, through teledentistry, the Planet Dental Texas team created a public health initiative for kids in the local school districts in Loredo, Texas. Through coordination with the school nurse and principal, Planet Dental team members would usually set up in the school nurse’s office to conduct the screening. They would go grade by grade and class by class. “Some days we were seeing 200-300 kids,” said Dr. Labbe.
Planet Dental Texas team members took intraoral pictures using the MouthWatch camera, then provided recommendations and risk assessments to the parents via the TeleDent teledentistry platform from MouthWatch. The screenings allowed the dental team to determine whether their children had a high, low or medium caries risk. “If they had plaque, a cavity, broken teeth or calculus build up – or if they’re teeth were in good shape – we’d report back to them,” said Dr. Labbe. “That way, the parents had a good idea of what their child needed, or if everything was going well.” The screening was free to the parents, who were provided a printout.
Dr. Labbe said they conducted several thousand screenings over a short period of time. The response to the program was “fantastic,” and generated traffic to the dental practice. “We had some patients come in with cavities that had been patients of ours previously but had not come back until then,” Dr. Labbe said. “We had some kids with big issues where we were able to use evidence-based dentistry to give recommendations and get them into the dentist to be treated. And then we had some patients who had good oral hygiene and just wanted to get on track with preventative work. It was kind of mixture of everything, but it was very helpful.”
Although Planet Dental Texas paused the telehealth school program during the pandemic, Dr. Labbe said they are eager to get it going again when things settle down. “The community really responded well to it.”