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College of Dentistry helps bridge the gap between Nebraska students and dentists

UNMC is using teledentistry to provide dental consultations within school walls.
UNMC is using teledentistry to provide dental consultations within school walls.(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 5:50 PM CST
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With a camera and a tablet, a school nurse's office transforms into a dental clinic.

It's through the University of Nebraska Medicine's College of Dentistry teledentistry program.

For the last five years, it's been operating within Omaha schools, helping around 125 kids get dental treatments.

"These are kids presenting to their school health professionals complaining of toothaches, pain or they've suffered a dental injury," Dr. Jillian Wallen with the College of Dentistry said.

Now, the program looks to expand to Lincoln Public Schools.

The program is part of UNMC's goal to use technology and telemedicine to provide medical care to underserved communities, both rural and low-income.

"Oral health is is the number one unmet need within school systems in Omaha, the entire state," Wallen said.

Here's how it works-

A child comes to the nurse's office with a dental need.

The school nurse will hook up the camera to the tablet and use those tools to show a dentist on the other end of the camera the student's teeth.

"The dentist can then talk to the kids and make recommendations in real-time," Wallen said.

After this consultation, the dentist will spell out the next steps for the student and their family to help them establish a "home dentist," and pave the way for good dental health.

The expansion to LPS is still in the very beginning stages.

Officials with LPS told 10/11 now they are very excited about the new partnership.

UNMC said it could be up and running in some schools as early as next fall.

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