Children in CCI’s Head Start and Early Head Start Programs are receiving dental check-ups right at our Early Learning Centers thanks to grant funding from The Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) and the Children’s Oral Health Network of Maine. The Virtual Dental Home Pilot Program, being implemented by several teams across the State, is supported at Community Concepts by a community-based hygiene team from Mainely Teeth and a supervising dentist from Community Dental in Farmington.
“Basically, virtual dental is the dental visit, all happening at the child’s school, or center in our case,” shared Danielle Hamlin, Family, Community, & Parent Engagement Manager for CCI’s Children’s Services. “The hygienist comes in, and she does everything she would do if you came into the (dental) office.”
Although a dentist is not on-site for the visits, the hygienist working with the children shares photos and notes from each child’s checkup with a dentist off-site. Once the dentist is able to review each case, a care plan is created and shared with the family to schedule any follow-up care that may be needed.
Danielle shared that for some of the children, the virtual visits allow them to complete their check-ups at their own pace.
"[One of our students] was able to come in and just explore at first, like feel the chair and meet the hygenist, and just do the point where she felt comfortable, and then she said 'all done' and she came out," Danielle explained. "It's something that you wouldn't do at a traditional office because once your appointment is done, your appointment's done."
The program is offered to any families working with our Head Start or Early Head Start programs who indicate they do not have a dental home. Currently, one hygienist is rotating through all of the CCI Early Learning Centers, seeing all children signed up for the program.
“We’re hoping it will follow school systems, so when these kids go from our Pre-K to Kindergarten, the schools will pick it up…the following year we can expand it to Kindergarten and then just keep going,” Danielle said.
For more information on the Virtual Dental Home Model and Pilot Program in Maine, please visit the Children’s Oral Health Network of Maine website.