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/ Categories: Strides in Science

December 2018 – Dorota Kopycka-Kedzierawski

Dorota Kopycka-Kedzierawski is Associate Professor of Dentistry at the University of Rochester, Eastman Institute for Oral Health in the Department of Community Dentistry and Oral Disease Prevention and in the Center for Oral Biology. She also serves as Deputy Director of the Northeast region of the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. Her research interests include, teledentistry, oral epidemiology, risks factors for Early Childhood Caries and dental practice-based research. Kopycka-Kedzierawski has been a member of IADR/AADR and the Caries Research and Behavioral, Epidemiology and Health Services Research Groups since 2000 and has been a president of a local chapter of AADR since 2013.

Kopycka-Kedzierawski’s research was published in the December 2018 issue of Health Affairs which focused on the future of telehealth and she presented her article “Advancement Of Teledentistry At The University Of Rochester’s Eastman Institute For Oral Health” at a telehealth briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, DC., on December 4, 2018.

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
I joined AADR in 2000, when I was enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Rochester, N.Y. I learned about AADR from my mentors, Mark E. Moss and Ronald J. Billings.  Given my interest in research, I was eager to connect with the research community. I soon discovered that the AADR was a great platform to connect with fellow students and colleagues.  Each year, a local chapter of AADR holds a conference at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH) and it is well attended by our faculty, residents, graduate students and staff. In 2001, as a graduate student, I presented my research project at the local AADR conference and was the recipient of the Michael Buonocore Award for Excellence in Research. It was a rewarding experience and that same year, I attended my first national AADR meeting.

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
The ability to present our research findings on the national and international level is an important aspect to advance our research projects and get fresh ideas for future research. The AADR publications are a great platform to learn about new discoveries in dental and craniofacial research. Networking with colleagues, exchanging research ideas, sharing research findings and promoting novel ideas are the most valuable benefits of AADR membership.

What do you want to see in the future for AADR?
I believe continuous support of the research community and new investigators is key for the future of AADR. This can continue to take place through student competitions, networking sessions and many opportunities to be involved in the AADR, such as special research interest groups and committees.

What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
Getting involved in the local chapters of AADR and special interest groups is a good first step. Students have opportunities to get involved in various competitions, present their research projects, meet their peers and learn what other investigators are working on. Being a member of AADR committees and special interest groups are also good ways to become more involved in AADR.

What is teledentistry and how did you get interested in it? Can your provide highlights of your teledentistry research?
Telehealth is defined as the use of technology to deliver health care services at a distance. Telehealth also includes patient and health professional education, public health and administrative activities. Teledentistry, as part of telehealth, can take three forms:  asynchronous (transmits patient’s oral images not used in real time, i.e. store and forward); synchronous (real-time interactive technologies are used, such as 2-way interactive video) and mobile health care services (uses mobile technology, such as smart phone applications and text messages to manage and track dental health conditions or promote healthy behaviors).  I first learned of telemedicine from our medical colleagues from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. We teamed up with pediatricians involved in a pediatric telemedicine project and we initiated a pilot project to assess feasibility, validity and reliability of teledentistry. We first envisioned teledentistry at EIOH as a means to screen large numbers of children for oral disease, mainly dental caries. Following two small-scale feasibility studies, to test the hypothesis that teledentistry could reduce or eliminate the need for a dentist or dental hygienist to perform a visual/tactile oral examination, a longitudinal comparative-effectiveness teledentistry study utilizing a store and forward (asynchronous) method to examine Medicaid eligible children between 1 and 6 years of age for dental caries was undertaken (it was funded by NIDCR K23 DE0172300). In 2010, a synchronous teledentistry program between EIOH and an underserved rural community health center in the Western region of New York was established to diagnose, create a treatment plan and facilitate the care and appropriate treatment of Medicaid eligible children with oral disease, mainly dental caries, in real time. To date, we have screened and treatment planned almost 900 underserved, rural children. We are encouraged by the fact that the children screened via teledentistry show up for their appointments, initiate oral health care and have their treatment plans completed.

How important do you think teledentistry is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
The digital transformation of medical and dental health care redefined many aspects of clinical practice and related daily business activities, including practice management, payments and marketing strategies. Since the immense explosion of computers and mobile devices technology, telehealth services can reach large segments of the general population. Teledentistry evolved on a slower scale than telemedicine, however teledentistry has been demonstrated to be a practical and cost-effective means to improve access and increase oral health care utilization, especially among rural and disadvantaged children.

The future of dental, oral and craniofacial research should include teledentistry as it can be used as an adjunct tool in conducting research in many domains, including pediatric dentistry, oral medicine, geriatric dentistry, orthodontics and disadvantaged populations, to name a few. Teledentistry could be particularly valuable in conducting large-scale population based oral health surveys, as the asynchronous modality could be utilized in place of the traditional oral visual/tactile examination by a dentist or dental hygienist, thus providing a permanent and cost-effective record.

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