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Smile: Virtual dentist visits now an option in Maryland | READER COMMENTARY

Dr. Jason Stein a shoulder and elbow surgeon at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital demonstrates how they approaching teleheath. A similar program is available from certain dentists in Maryland under a new rule approved by Gov. Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Health.
Dr. Jason Stein a shoulder and elbow surgeon at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital demonstrates how they approaching teleheath. A similar program is available from certain dentists in Maryland under a new rule approved by Gov. Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Health. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

Gov. Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Health have wisely authorized the use of teledentistry during the COVID-19 pandemic, a recognition of the importance of oral health to overall health and a significant step forward in improving access to dental care (“Maryland reports 723 coronavirus deaths, 879 new cases,” April 24).

Dentists across the state are using teledentistry — a live video or phone call with a patient — to view a dental problem in a person’s mouth, triage dental conditions, address urgent dental issues to keep patients out of hospital emergency rooms or educate patients on good oral hygiene habits.

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Teledentistry is an important tool to maintain the oral health of Marylanders, both during a pandemic and once it is over. Although virtual visits will never replace face-to-face care, the ability to address and remediate urgent oral health issues and reduce emergency department visits for dental conditions is a useful tool to reduce the cost of care and improve the oral health of Marylanders, particularly those in rural areas of the state that lack a sufficient number of providers.

The Maryland Dental Action Coalition applauds the actions of the governor and the health department in expanding access to oral health care during this difficult time and encourages them to continue to authorize the use of teledentistry once the state of emergency is over.

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Mary C. Backley, Columbia

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Dental Action Coalition.

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