Testimony regarding Senate Bill 2586

Burgess Harrison
March 12, 2024

Senator William Cunningham

President Pro Tempore

Senator 18th District

309 J Capitol Building

Springfield, IL   62706

Honorable Senator Cunningham:

I am writing to you on behalf of the National Minority Health Association (NMHA), an organization committed to fighting for health equity nationwide since 1988. At NMHA, we believe in providing access, awareness, and the means for everyone to achieve their optimal health, including mental and oral health outcomes. It is in this spirit that we urge you to reconsider any measures that would restrict the use of teledentistry in Illinois, specifically referencing the proposed amendment in IL SB 2586.

The importance of teledentistry, especially in our current healthcare and dental landscapes, cannot be overstated.  As of 2021, 43.3% of the U.S. population had a dental visit in the past 12 months. Among children ages 0-18 and seniors age 65 and older,  50.0% had a dental visit. For working-age adults ages 19-64, 38.7% had a dental visit, all indicating that over half may not have a regular dentist.


Consider these facts about teledentistry:

  1. Expansion of Teledentistry Codes: Since the pandemic, the ADA has added several new codes for teledentistry to cover real-time and store-and-forward scenarios, acknowledging its growing importance in dental care​​. https://adanews.ada.org/ada-news/2023/june/teledentistry-poised-for-vivid-future/
  2. Access in Rural Areas: About 20% of Americans living in rural areas struggle with accessing dental services. Teledentistry can extend oral health care to non-traditional settings like schools and workplaces​​. https://www.deltadental.com/grinmag/us/en/ddmi/2021/dental-care-may-be-available-remotely.html
  3. Overcoming Barriers to Care: Teledentistry can bridge the gap for socially deprived, older, and minority groups who face significant barriers to accessing oral healthcare, especially in areas with a scarcity of dental professionals​​. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-024-7055-y
  4. Empowering Dental Hygienists: Teledentistry enables dental hygienists and therapists to triage patients remotely, facilitating collaboration among dental professionals and improving access to care​​. https://dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/article/increasing-utilization-teledenstiry/
  5. Effectiveness in Orthodontics: Teledentistry has been found as effective as traditional clinical examinations for identifying the need for orthodontic referral, demonstrating its reliability for specific dental evaluations​​. https://jdh.adha.org/content/87/6/345
  6. Tailored to Patients with Special Needs: Teledentistry offers the ability to make specific accommodations for patients with special needs, enhancing access and comfort for these individuals​​. https://www.todaysrdh.com/breaking-barriers-teledentistry-expands-access-to-care-for-patients-with-special-needs/
  7. Aid for Patients with IDD: Teledentistry provides a crucial service for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) by reducing the stress and barriers associated with dental office visits​​. https://helenjournal.org/july-2023/blog-post-title-one-glgh3
  8. Support During Pandemics: The pandemic underscored the importance of teledentistry as dental practitioners sought to connect digitally with patients, highlighting its role in preventing disease transmission​​. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-024-7055-y

Teledentistry has emerged as a critical solution for underserved, marginalized, and hard-to-reach populations across both our state and the country. By leveraging video chats and other telecommunication technologies, dentists are able to extend their reach beyond traditional clinic settings, providing much-needed care and consultation to those without direct access to dental services.

The Public Health Emergency Act of 2020 highlighted the necessity and effectiveness of remote dental care, offering a lifeline to the 12.9 million residents of Illinois who might otherwise suffer from dental pain or resort to emergency rooms for care due to lack of access. The proposed amendment to IL SB 2586 threatens to reverse this progress by imposing unnecessary limitations on who can receive teledentistry services, effectively excluding millions of residents without a dentist of record.

Furthermore, the specific requirements outlined in the amendment could impose significant financial burdens on Illinois dentists and dental offices. The need to redesign external communication platforms and restrict services to only existing patients will not only be costly but will also hinder the delivery of educational and preventative care programs critical to reducing the overall burden of oral disease.

The NMHA stands firmly in support of expanding access to dental care via teledentistry, aligning with the American Dental Association and various insurance companies that recognize its value. As we continue to navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19 (other potential future pandemics), it is imperative that we embrace, not restrict, innovations like teledentistry that can improve access to oral health care.

In closing, I appeal to your commitment to the health and well-being of all Illinois residents. By supporting teledentistry, you are supporting health equity and ensuring that everyone, regardless of their location or economic status, has the opportunity to achieve optimal oral health outcomes. I thank you for your consideration and hope that you will stand with us in this critical moment for healthcare delivery.

Respectfully submitted,


Burgess Harrison

Executive Director

(651) 245-5552 Mobile

(833) 367-6642 (833) FOR-NMHA


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