Skip to main content
Fones School of Dental Hygiene: Pioneering Teledentistry for Improved Access to Care
Fones School of Dental Hygiene: Pioneering Teledentistry for Improved Access to Care

In 1916, the Fones School of Dental Hygiene at the University of Bridgeport made history as the world’s first institution dedicated to dental hygiene education. Over a century later, Fones continues to uphold its pioneering spirit by embracing innovative technologies to enhance patient care and expand access to dental services.  

Addressing Oral Healthcare Disparities Through Teledentistry

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities faced worsening disparities in accessing oral healthcare. To tackle this challenge head-on, Fones launched a teledentistry program in 2021, supported by grant funding. By leveraging MouthWatch Intraoral Cameras and TeleDent software, Fones’ faculty and students could provide virtual dental exams and consultations at off-site locations across Bridgeport, Connecticut.

“Through this grant and through the ability to take our mode of treatment basically out on the road, our students have been able to provide care using TeleDent, MouthWatch Intraoral Cameras, and other mobile dental equipment at homeless shelters, community centers, and a head start program,” explained Dr. Jennifer Boyce, Associate Director of Clinical Affairs at the Fones School of Dental Hygiene


Revolutionizing Dental Education and Patient Care

Fones’ adoption of teledentistry not only expanded their reach into underserved communities but also transformed the educational experience for dental hygiene students. With intraoral cameras and teledentistry software being a part of Fones’ curriculum, students gained invaluable skills in data collection, patient assessment, and interprofessional collaboration – essential competencies for future career success.

“Intraoral cameras are a great tool for educating patients,” shared dental hygiene student Daneshka. “And utilizing teledentistry prepared me for my future career because I can now bring these capabilities wherever my career takes me.”

“Our goal as a dental hygiene program is to educate in the most patient-centered manner possible,” said Dr. Boyce. “This allows our graduates… that extra level of expertise in providing a telehealth visit for the patient and in being the one who is responsible for accurate data collection and accurate assessment.

“For patients, the integration of MouthWatch cameras and teledentistry software fostered a more engaging and educational experience. High-quality intraoral images enabled patients to visualize their oral health conditions, empowering them to understand their oral health and to make informed decisions about treatment.

“Everyone has had their telehealth experience since COVID in one way or another,” noted Dr. Boyce. “Patients are happy. They’re glad to know what’s going on, that these capabilities are in their community, and that the financial barrier and geographic barrier is removed from accessing care.”


Pioneering Spirit Driving Impact

Fones’ teledentistry program has already made a profound impact, surpassing its original goal of treating 140 patients within three years. To date, the program has provided care to over 300 individuals, many of whom have been referred for additional treatment through Fones’ other grant-funded initiatives.

As Dr. Boyce reflects, “The most successful part of this program, that I am very proud of, is how many of these patients are coming back and getting the care that they need. It gets you a little choked up just thinking about it.”

By embracing technologies like MouthWatch Intraoral Cameras and teledentistry, the Fones School of Dental Hygiene continues its century-long tradition of pioneering dental education and improving access to quality oral healthcare for all.


Disclaimer: This project was supported by federal award number 21.027 awarded to the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.