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The Virtual Dental Home: A Vision to Facilitate Access to Oral Health Care

Access to oral health care services is a global challenge. One program is leveraging the ease of technology use to facilitate access to populations that would otherwise be deprived. 

Drs. Paul Glassman and Andrew Tseu joined me in this interview to speak about the Virtual Dental Home program that was developed by Dr. Glassman and has been implemented by the Hawai’i State Department of Health under the oversight of Dr. Tseu. The program has proven very successful and is now extending from the Big Island of Hawai’i to the island of Maui. 

It is always encouraging to know that there are alternative approaches that offer real solutions to the age-old issue of access to oral health care. 

Please share your thoughts, questions and suggestions about this and other Oasis topics through oasisdiscussions@cda-adc.ca

Until next time!

Chiraz Guessaier
CDA Oasis Manager 


Through a public-private partnership, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health, Pacific Center for Special Care at the University of the Pacific’s School of Dentistry, the HDS Foundation and other community partners are changing the future trajectory of Hawaiʻi’s children by using a proven virtual dental home program to improve their oral health and overall health.

The teledentistry program, or virtual dental home, is an innovative system that makes it easy for patients to receive diagnostic and preventive services in community settings. Developed by Dr. Paul Glassman, professor of dental practice and director of the Pacific Center for Special Care at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, the program aims to improve care for under-served populations.

The partnership has successfully demonstrated the value of the teledentistry pilot project in West Hawaiʻi over the past two years. As a result, the HDS Foundation is providing funding for a third year. The HDS Foundation contributed about $315,000 in the first two years of the pilot and this year will allocate an additional $319,000 to continue the pilot.

In addition, the HDS Foundation committed $125,000 for the first year of a three-year project on Maui to and increase the ability of the program to operate there five days a week. The Hawaii Medical Service Association Foundation is also contributing $125,000 to expand the successful program to Maui.

Full Interview (28.41″)



One comment

  1. This seems like an interesting tool for the education of those less fortunate, but there still is the problem of cost of dental care. Universities themselves are no small part of the problem. They have made the cost of a dental education insanely high. For students to graduate half a million dollars in debt or more I believe has created a generation of dentists who are less focused on being professionals and more focused on being business people – out of sheer necessity for survival. Then you have dental supply companies, some with arguably predatory pricing for their captive market. You have staff with growing salary expectations. You have governments that regard you as cash cows and feel that they own a significant portion of your earnings to prop up government budgets that politicians have been mismanaging for decades. You have public and regulatory bodies with high expectations and litigious attitudes. People forget that there is an R factor in dental fees: Responsibility. On every patient and with every procedure you are taking a risk of failure and open yourself to retribution that can be professionally and psychologically devastating. That in itself has no small value in determining fees. And of course, you as the dentist are always the last to get paid.
    I’m amused by the talk in some circles about dental therapists of some form being a vehicle for less expensive delivery of care. What makes them less expensive? Are they going to be held to a lower standard of care? Will they be up for tribunals or appear in court when they have erred? Or will the world take a blind eye to their foibles in exchange for lesser income? Or do people expect that a supervising dentist would take the responsibility for their mistakes and become the one attacked?
    There are no easy answers, but I firmly believe that part starts with the Ivory Tower. Dental education needs to be less expensive. Dental schools need to stop using students as profit centres and give them time off in the summer to get jobs and pay for their tuition – and not amass huge student loans. We had 4 months off to work in the summer back in the day, and it was a lifesaver. Sure there was the option to do research or some clinical work, but you were not an indentured servant to the dental school.
    No doubt there would be arguments from the academia running these institutions, and I’ve heard it all before. “We make arrangements with ABC bank so that they get great rates on loans.” “What over profession can you graduate from and instantly be able to make $200k/year?” (yes, that one is a true example – I think that’s a little out of touch; just as the new grads)

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