The Virtual Dental Home
The Virtual Dental Home System of Care
The Virtual Dental Home (VDH) is a system of care created by Dr. Paul Glassman when he was Director of the Pacific Center for Special Care at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. The VDH uses technology to bring high-quality and safe dental care to children and adults where they already spend time, such as at schools, early learning sites, residential facilities, community centers and nursing homes. It has been proven both successful and cost-effective in demonstration projects throughout California and can contribute to systems designed to get dental care to those who need it most. The system is being replicated in states across the county.
This system is called the Virtual Dental Home (VDH) because it provides all the essential ingredients of a “health home”, but does so using geographically distributed, telehealth-connected teams. As distinct from “dental home” systems that regard the dental office as the “home”, this model reaches people who do not regularly visit dental offices by bringing services to them. The VDH system emphasizes prevention and early intervention services in community settings, while linking to and expanding the involvement of dental offices and clinics.
What is a Virtual Dental Home?
The Virtual Dental Home (VDH) is a community-based oral health delivery system in which people receive preventive and early intervention therapeutic services in community settings. It utilizes telehealth technology to link allied dental personnel in the community with dentists in dental offices and clinics. A six-year demonstration of this system indicated that registered dental hygienists in alternative practice (RDHAP), dental hygienists working in public health programs (RDH) and registered dental assistants (RDA), working in telehealth-connected teams, can keep most people healthy in community settings by providing education, triage, case management, preventive procedures, and Interim Therapeutic Restorations (ITR). When more complex dental treatment is needed, the Virtual Dental Home connects patients with dentists in the area. This system promotes expansion of dental practices and linkages between dentists in dental offices and these community-based allied dental personnel. Most importantly, it brings much-needed services to individuals who might otherwise receive no care.
Covid-19 Implications – Return to School Guidance
On March 4, 2020 a state of emergency was declared in California due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On March 19, 2020 an executive order was signed by the governor for all Californians to stay at home except for essential workers and to purchase basic needs. School districts began closing schools prior to the executive order, which meant that all Virtual Dental Home activities were halted.
In anticipation of a gradual school resumption of in-person learning, and the need for revised safety protocols for VDH teams, CNU staff have worked with VDH teams and compiled resources to develop guidance to assist them in re-starting their VDH activities. The Guidance document and a sample flier can be found here:
Further Information about the VDH System
Listed below are a number of reports and publications about the VDH system:
- CDA Journal with multiple publications on the Virtual Dental Home – July 2012
- CDA Journal Article on the use of Interim Therapeutic Restorations in Community sites.
- Virtual Dental Home Report 2016 Executive Summary
- Virtual Dental Home Report 2016 Full Report
- The Children’s Partnership Virtual Dental Home 2015 Fact Sheet
- The Children’s Partnership 2019 Report on The Virtual Dental Home: from Pilot to Systems Change