Dental center continues support of seniors through telemedicine, dental hygiene kits

Gary & Mary West program provides needed services during COVID-19 pandemic

Written By: Lauren J. Mapp

Date Posted: June 1, 2020

Having a toothache is never pleasant. Having one as a senior during the global COVID-19 pandemic, when many dental offices are shuttered, compounds the situation.

When 70-year-old Irma Hampton was suffering from severe pain in her tooth, she knew a root canal would be inevitable, but didn’t know when she’d be able to see a dentist.

“The tooth and then my ears started hurting, but then I said, ‘I can’t go to the dentist because we’ve got to stay in and (the dentists are) not working,’” she said.

So she called Gary & Mary West Senior Dental Center, where she has received dental care for several years. The dentist proceeded with a telemedicine visit, and Hampton’s son sent photos to show the swelling caused by the pain.

Instead of bringing her in for a root canal immediately, the dentist prescribed her antibiotics over the phone, relieving the pain Hampton was feeling.

“I call that a miracle,” she said. “I didn’t want to get out of the house when they’re saying to stay in. I don’t want my mouth open in a dentist’s office with the (coronavirus) going around.”

Gary & Mary West Senior Dental Center is a nonprofit, community dental clinic that specializes in senior health. In a shift from their normal program, the center is working to support patients from a distance while their offices remain closed for in-person appointments due to COVID-19.

When the nonprofit dental practice closed down on March 13, Dr. Karen Becerra said her team started planning where they’d refer people to for dental emergencies and prepared a telemedical health system to address patients’ needs.


Please read the full article in The San Diego Union-Tribune.