If you don’t like going to the dentist, don’t worry—now the dentist can virtually come to you. Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2056 Friday, ending a ban on teledentistry in Texas and allowing it to be performed statewide like other telemedicine practices.
The bill signed by Abbott comes after a legal fight between the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners and those opposing the ban. As reported by the Tyler Morning Telegraph, during last year’s lockdowns the board issued COVID-19 guidelines requiring Texas dentists to perform physical examinations only. The board also claimed Texas law didn’t authorize teledentistry. In February, Kansas City-based The Teledentists and a South Carolina dentist with Texas patients filed a lawsuit opposing the ban.
Frisco-based DialCare worked with legislators
Other advocates stepped in to oppose the ban as well, including Frisco-based telehealth company DialCare, which launched its own teledentistry program earlier this year. The company has provided teledentistry services in 48 other states since last September.
DialCare worked with Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), and lobbyist Andrea McWilliams to help see HB 2056 through a gridlocked legislative session that had one of the lowest bill passage rates in Texas history, the company says. DialCare worked with Sen. Perry before the session began and gave “significant input” for each bill draft.
“DialCare saw the importance of changing Texas law to allow Texans to access remote dentistry services, so we began working with the Legislature to address this issue more than a year ago,” said DialCare CEO Barbara Fasola, in a statement.
DialCare President Jeremy Hedrick testified in support of the bill, attended stakeholder meetings, and met with legislators and staff, the company says.
“DialCare truly appreciates the opportunity to be involved in the passing of the teledentistry bill into law,” said Hedrick. “Now, Texans will be able to connect with dentists by phone or video consultation for advice on their oral health concerns, conveniently and affordably.”
“Teledentistry better connects patients with their dentists by allowing them to offer services beyond the brick and mortar office,” Sen. Perry added in the statement. “By passing this law, more underserved Texans will have better access to preventative dental care and be able to live a healthier life through the care they will receive.”
Your virtual dentist will see you now
How does virtual dentistry work? Needless to say, you won’t be drilling your molars or pulling wisdom teeth from the comfort of your home. But dentists can consult with you via phone, video, and other technologies on a variety of non-emergency dental issues—from toothaches to swollen gums to teeth alignment and more.
And yes, you can open your mouth and say “Ahhh.”
“Through the use of smart phone cameras or webcams, images can be relayed live via a video consult or pictures can be taken and uploaded for the dentist to review,” DialCare told Dallas Innovates.
DialCare says its teledentistry program offers 24/7/365 virtual access to licensed dentists via phone or video consultation for advice and guidance on oral health concerns. It also provides second opinions (in case you’re hoping for a reprieve from that extraction recommendation you just received).
Moving forward, DialCare believes teledentistry offerings will expand as technology advances.
“At-home dental impressions, at-home intra-oral scanners that will relay images to dentists much like in-person scans, and other advances will continue to impact the dental services available virtually,” the company said.
Coming soon: virtual vets
Beyond its teledentistry program, DialCare currently offers telemedicine and telebehavioral health programs. It plans to launch a virtual veterinarian program by the end of this year. DialCare says it provides more than six million members with access to its telehealth programs, and expects its memberships to grow to 10 million-plus by end of this year.
DialCare is the telemedicine affiliate company of Careington International, a leader in non-insured health care benefits based in Texas since its founding in 1979. Careington says it serves more than 20 million members across all its companies, brands, products and services. In April Careington completed its new corporate campus at 6435 Flyers Way in Frisco, a three-story, 75,000-square foot building. Careington’s international headquarters is located in two buildings on Frisco’s Gaylord Parkway.
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