The Tellie Awards highlight the ways teledentistry is being implemented across a broad spectrum of dental care including public health, private practice, and organizational settings. 

MouthWatch LLC, a provider of teledentistry solutions, digital case presentation tools, and intraoral imaging devices, recently recognized five teledentistry pioneers during its third annual Teledentistry Innovation Awards, known as the “Tellies.” The 2020 Tellie Awards were presented February 5, 2021, during a virtual event. 

“2020 presented significant challenges to dentistry and the world at large, but the year also marked a time of unprecedented growth and innovation in the teledentistry field.  We weren’t about to let a pandemic prevent us from recognizing this year’s Tellie Awards winners, so we hosted a great virtual event instead,” said MouthWatch CEO and founder Brant Herman. 

The purpose of the Tellie Awards is to highlight the ways teledentistry is being implemented across a broad spectrum of dental care including public health, private practice, and organizational settings; and recognize individual, forward-thinking dental providers who are realizing the full potential for connected dental care technology and who are reshaping the practice of dentistry while improving the state of oral health across the country. 

In past years, Teledentistry Innovation Awards winners were named in the following categories: dentist/specialist, dental hygiene and oral health program (non-profit or business). New for the 2020 Tellie Awards were two special COVID response categories: COVID-19 response/provider and COVID-19 response/oral health program.    

The 2020 Tellie Award winners for 2020 included Scott Howell, DMD, MPH, in the dentist/specialist category; Jingjing Qian, RDH-EA, in the dental hygiene category; the University of Rochester Eastman Institute for Oral Health in the oral health program (non-profit or business) category; Barry Raphael, DMD, in the COVID-19 response – provider category; and Advantage Dental from DentaQuest Care Group in the COVID-19 response – oral health care program category. 

Howell developed an oral health program at AT Still University/Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health. This program has trained over 300 students in teledentisry, where they learn how this technology can be used to reach diverse patient populations and how to evaluate digital records collected via teledentistry. During the pandemic, Howell’s program pivoted to have students participate in 1-week public health rotations where they worked with diverse patients, including children in detention, children and adults with special needs, low-income seniors, and men in rehabilitation/reentry programs. 

Qian, of Your Special Smiles PLLC, developed and implemented a COVID response—The Guided Oral Hygiene Program—that continued to provide oral care to long-term care residents who would otherwise not have received these critical services. Developed in conjunction with Dr Brooke Fukuoka, the Guided Oral Hygiene Program trained caregivers on how to gather information via teledentistry and then use teledentistry to provide oral hygiene regimens. 

Meanwhile, the University of Rochester Eastman Institute for Oral Health was recognized for its real-world implementation of teledentistry in oral health programs that provide care to underserved patients in the Greater Rochester, NY region. 

In the COVID Response category, Raphael, a practicing orthodontist for over 30 years who heads The Raphael Center for Integrative Orthodontics, was recognized for his pivot during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, he had already been re-examining his traditional views on patient treatment and adopted a new integrative approach. With his patients’ safety as a top priority, he implemented teledentistry.  All intraoral photos are submitted remotely, new patient records are completed electronically, and all consultations are conducted through a web-based platform. And Advantage Dental and DentaQuest were recognized for their long support of teledentistry as part of their outreach and mobile programs.