The adoption and Practice Acts surrounding teledentistry vary widely depending on the state you are located. At MouthWatch we often hear “Can I use teledentistry in my state?” The short answer is that it depends on your state, your license type and in what manner you will be providing virtual care. The range varies from very limited teledentistry to more progressive states. The COVID-19 pandemic put the world on alert and forced dentistry to adapt, with the adoption of teledentistry and reimbursement greatly accelerated. Many states are clarifying their Dental Practice Act to include teledentistry, and as a result the third party payers are providing reimbursement for the D9995 (synchronous) and D9996 (asynchronous) CDT codes.
California Recognizes Teledentistry Benefits
California is known to be a progressive state when it comes to dentistry and allowances, and teledentistry is no different. Like many states throughout the country, they have recognized the benefit teledentistry brings to some of the most “at-risk” populations. This may include providing access to care at sites including schools, head-start programs, community clinics, long-term care facilities and more. There are an estimated 11 million people in California who live in healthcare shortage areas. Of those, over 6 million people are in areas without access to basic primary medical care. The use of telehealth and teledentistry is bringing care to this population.
California is amongst the leaders allowing a licensed RDHAP to practice as either an employee or sole proprietor to provide a full range of dental hygiene services. The hygienist must enter into a collaborative relationship with a dentist to ensure the patient has a dentist evaluation within 18 months. Using teledentistry as part of collaborative practice makes compliance easy and can streamline the necessary restorative care when the dentist is able to provide a quick evaluations via teledentistry.
The Governor signed into law A.B. 1174, which adds teledentistry services that do not require a face-to-face contact to be reimbursed by the state’s Medicaid program. The program allows for dental auxiliaries, licensed assistants and hygienists, to expose x-rays and perform basic evaluation techniques to aid the dentist in evaluations. Teledentistry services are not limited to outreach efforts and may occur in the dental office setting.
Teledentistry use does not just apply in the Medicaid setting in California—the widespread adoption and acceptance is seen from small private practices to large DSO organizations. Use of an all-in-one program such as TeleDent allows dental providers to stay connected to provide the best possible patient care.