Dentist starts petition to allow Texas dentists to triage patients with teledentistry

A Texas dentist has started a petition urging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to allow dentists to use teledentistry to screen and triage patients during the COVID-19 crisis, according to Texas Dentists for Medicaid Reform.

Leanne Tessandori, DDS, a San Antonio-based dentist, started the petition April 1. As of April 16, the document had more than 1,500 signatures.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many dental offices have had to close or limit their services to treating emergencies. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 is real for dentists and patients, the petition reads, especially as resources dwindle. For some patients with weak immune systems, visiting a dental office may be too much of a risk, even in an emergency.

Dr. Tessandori also noted that patients with non-traumatic dental conditions may be visiting emergency rooms, taxing an already overburdened system and possibly contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

With teledentistry platforms, "dentists would be able to video screen and triage patients, who either need to present for treatment or can be stabilized with a prescription, if necessary, and scheduled for a next possible date," Dr. Tessandori wrote. She added that several major dental insurance companies are allowing certain codes to be covered with telehealth.

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