DDSRank Announces 2020 Dental Scholarship WinnerTop dental SEO company DDSRank is pleased to announce Joe Montesano as the winner of The 2020 DDSRank Dental Scholarship. The scholarship program, which was started to help students dedicated to a career in dentistry afford an education, is being awarded for the sixth time.
Montesano, who submitted the top entry, is a first-year student at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He graduated high school from Morris County (NJ) Vocational School District, where he was able to take courses in the Healthcare Sciences field offered for college credit through Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Next he received Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Philosophy from Seton Hall University.
The 2020 DDSRank Scholarship entrants responded to the question, How do you think use of the internet will reshape – or is already reshaping – the field of dentistry?
“We had a record number of entries this year, and choosing a winner was difficult,” said Brock Bradford, DDSRank’s COO. “Joe Montesano’s essay stood out for its first-person account of the transformation of one dental office through the power of the internet during unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19.”
For the past five years, Joe Montesano has worked as a dental assistant at a family dental practice. In his essay, Joe describes the disruption that dental offices across the country experienced: “On March 18, 2020, every dental office in New Jersey went into an unprecedented panic. With the news showing an uptick in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in countries across the world and especially within the state, most offices were forced to close down with little notice or plan of reopening in the near future. At the beginning of the pandemic, dentists and hygienists were considered ‘nonessential workers.’ It seems that, unfortunately, lawmakers had not considered that dental emergencies continue to occur despite public health disasters.”
Montesano noted the dire financial impact that threatened the practice as a result of the pandemic, and the detrimental health effects of delayed dental treatment to many in the surrounding community. And then he talked of the solution courtesy of the internet: “Through the power of various video services—Zoom, Duo, Skype, Facetime, etc.—I helped to set up a system at the office for teledentistry for use during and after the outbreak. … This internet technology has helped us to screen patients before seeing them to make sure that they are healthy enough to visit the office and if they show any obvious COVID symptoms. Also, we can start to zone in on exactly what procedure may be required along with the necessary precautions the providers will need to take. Patients are able to video call with us and we even have an email address set up to receive pictures of where they think the problem areas are, which is particularly useful for those with extensive decay or broken teeth.”
Says Montesano, “All of these safety measures were made possible by the Internet, and it has greatly shaped the new way of functioning in our office throughout the pandemic. Because of these measures, the office opened with limited staff only three days after closing — and we remained one of the few offices open full time for emergencies throughout the first few months of the pandemic.”
In addition to teledentistry, Joe notes that he’s observed the increased use of online referral forms used by dental specialists such as endodontists and oral surgeons. This practice has reduced the need for consult visits, resulting in faster treatment with fewer in-person meetings and thereby increasing both patient and worker safety.
However, Montesano warns that teledentistry can’t replace all in-person exams. “While teledentistry has proven as a critical addition to dental practices, practitioners must take caution in relying on it too heavily. While triaging may be effective, seeing the problematic areas through a phone or computer camera cannot diagnose all wrongs. Sometimes, a patient’s problem may be misdiagnosed if the person is not examined clinically or radiographically.”
DDSRank is honored to support the education of outstanding, dedicated dental students like Joe Montesano. Congratulations!
DDSRank’s purpose is to help dental professionals succeed in building their practices using SEO and dental marketing. The establishment of the dental scholarship program was a natural extension of that mission – by helping an aspiring dentist afford the education needed to build their own practice. For more information on the award, visit the scholarship page.