Researchers have studied using teleconferencing to determine the possibility of increasing orthodontic access to disadvantaged children.

In the study, an orthodontist used teleconferencing from a remote site to supervise a general dentist who provided limited orthodontic services to Medicaid-eligible children in a public health clinic in Toppenish, Wash.

Treatment results from the procedure performed by the general dentist were compared to results obtained by orthodontic graduate students who had direct orthodontist supervision on-site at a public health clinic in Seattle.

The study results showed that both groups of patients had significant orthodontic improvement. No differences were detected between the results achieved by the general dentist who was supervised by an orthodontist using teleconferencing from a remote site and the orthodontic residents who were trained by an orthodontist on-site.

According to the researchers, early orthodontic treatment provided by a sufficiently trained general dentist and supervised remotely by an orthodontic specialist via teleconference is a viable approach to reducing the severity of malocclusion in disadvantaged children.