PDM Teledental with UHC: Alleviating Barriers to Care and Bringing Patients Back to the Chair

Gideon S Turk

Rachel S Hoagburg

Alexander Y.Z. Li

Turk, Gideon S, Hoagburg, Rachel, S, Li, Alexander, Y.Z.
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Department of Preventive and Restorative Sciences, Division of Community Oral Health


Various community health honors students from the D2, D3, and D4 classes have been working with Community Health Hygienists Deanne Wallaert, Debra Linkstrom, and Jill Klischies to make calls throughout the week. Up to three students will work with one dental hygienist to make calls for 3-4 hours in a single day to call about 10-15 patients per person.

Project Overview

The Teledental project is a combined effort of PDM and United Healthcare. UHC patients under the age of 21 in the Philadelphia area, who have not been to a dentist in over a year, have been called to help continue good dental care as well as to try to get them back into a dental office. The goals of this project are to assist those who face barriers in reaching dental care, learn new ways to reach the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and gain a better understanding of barriers to access dental care for these patients.


As of March 22nd 2021, 113 forms have been filled out from a total of 440 calls to discuss 639 children. On the phone, we are able to improve the oral health literacy of those we are speaking with as well as try to address any barriers to accessing care for each patient. We also offer resources if any of the patients are having trouble accessing food for their household, and can help alleviate dental fear by referring those we speak with to PDM’s dental fear reduction app.