Patient Care

Eastman Institute for Oral Health Awarded $100K

Jan. 22, 2021
Keeping Elderly Safe through Teledentistry

Eastman Institute for Oral Health was awarded $100,000 from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to help improve oral health care for vulnerable elderly populations in the Greater Rochester community.

Holly Barone, Chief Operations Officer
Holly Barone, EIOH Chief Operations Officer

“Due to the pandemic, oral health care has been halted in most nursing homes due to heightened safety concerns,” Holly Barone, RDH, EIOH Chief Operations Officer. “But without timely intervention, the progression of oral disease can cause pain and infection and adversely impact overall quality of life.”

The effects of the pandemic are particularly acute for vulnerable older adults requiring transportation to dental facilities. “The situation presented an opportunity for us to re-think how oral health care can be delivered safely and more timely,” Barone added.

Thanks to the Foundation’s support, Eastman Institute for Oral Health experts will soon implement an innovative program they developed that will not only help 200 people locally, but will also lay the groundwork to improve care for this population throughout our region and can be modeled throughout the State.

Foundation funds will provide portable dental equipment, supplies, and teledentistry equipment for two nursing home sites and partial salary support for providers.

Vital preventive services such as cleanings and fluoride treatment, x-rays and oral health education will be conducted safely on-site by the dental hygienist. The teledentistry equipment will be used for consultation and triage, allowing dentists located remotely at Eastman Institute to advise patients and caregivers, who can also tune in remotely, in real time.

Nursing home resident engaging in teledentistry
A nursing home resident safely discussing options with her dentist via teledentistry.

The project includes an educational component, where EIOH dentists will provide online training to nursing home healthcare providers on the importance and value of proper oral hygiene for older adults.

“Oral disease progression caught early can be reversed or stopped with appropriate oral hygiene, fluoride exposure, dental sealants, changes in diet, and other measures provided by the dental hygienist,” explained Barone. “We’re grateful for the Foundation’s support and partnership to provide such a positive and important impact on the quality of people’s lives.”

Over the last several months, Eastman Institute for Oral Health created a new Teledentistry Division, significantly expanding its teledentistry services across all specialties to safely serve patients during the pandemic. This proactive approach recently landed them a 2020 Teledentistry Innovation Award from MouthWatch.

“If we can develop and deploy replicable program models that improve access to primary oral healthcare in underserved communities across New York State,” said Monsignor Gregory Mustaciuolo, CEO of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, “we can positively impact the lives of children, older persons, low-income individuals and families, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with special needs. These are the populations our Foundation’s namesake devoted her life to serving.”