Dr. Lauren Yura Godwin, WVU School of Dentistry, speaks with a dental patient via telehealth. (WVU Photo)

WVU Dental Care offers teledentistry for virtual patient visits

West Virginia’s rural residents will have more access to dental care through teledentistry —the process of connecting dentists and patients online— provided by WVU Dental Care in partnership with dentists and oral health specialists from the West Virginia University School of Dentistry.

WVU Dentists who perform virtual exams can provide and support dental care delivery, determine diagnosis, offer consultation for treatment and share dental education and information.

“Certainly COVID-19 precautions necessitate a new way of connecting with many of our patients,” Dr. Valerie Perrine, assistant professor in the School of Dentistry’s Department of Restorative Dentistry, said. “Oral health problems don’t go away in a pandemic even though physical access to patient care may not always be an option. Teledentistry allows us to provide innovative, integrative and convenient care while protecting our patients, faculty, students and staff.”

Dr. Lauren Yura Godwin said in-clinic exams will always be vital for comprehensive oral healthcare.

“And, while many virtual exams may result in referrals for in-clinic treatment, there will be times that we can assess the patient’s chief complaint and provide information or treatment alternatives that can temporarily alleviate pain, discomfort or anxiety about a particular issue,” Godwin, an assistant professor of restorative dentistry, said,

WVU Dental Care offers comprehensive care and access to numerous dental specialists often difficult to find practicing in rural areas. The availability and access to oral health care providers in Morgantown draws patients who sometimes drive multiple hours from around West Virginia and bordering states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

WVU Dental Care’s Urgent Care Clinic averages more than 4,500 patient visits each year. Oral healthcare challenges in West Virginia often demand limited urgent care time and specialized providers. Teledentistry can provide patients with faster service without them traveling long distances and a referral to a specialist if needed.

It is necessary for a patient to have online access and the proper technology, including a computer web camera or a video feature on a cell phone, to participate in video calls with providers. Patients must also have an active email address.

WVU Dental charges a $75 non-refundable teledentistry fee.

Virtual visits cannot take the place of in-person consultations and treatment. Patients who could require or qualify for a teledentistry appointment can email teledent@hsc.wvu or call 304-293-4165.

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