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Warner Robins dentist uses telehealth to help ease hospital emergency room traffic

Family Dental Associates will talk with you even if you're not their patient.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — A severe toothache can really put you on the sidelines, but Family Dental Associates in Warner Robins is helping people while making room in emergency rooms for COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Alex Bell with Family Dental Associates estimates two percent of emergency room patients are folks with dental needs that could be handled over the phone.

"Close to 50 percent of emergency room patients do not have insurance," he explained. "We are not charging for our telehealth appointments -- that's at no cost to these patients."

 That's why when COVID-19, hit they figured they could thin the crowds a bit in emergency rooms.

"We've reached out to the Houston County Emergency Center and told them that we will be glad to handle their non-traumatic dental emergencies," he said.

Here's how it works. When you call the office, they will walk you through an app.

If it's not an emergency, they can call in a prescription for you.

"The technology we've invested in so we can interview the patients and send them forms to fill out on their smartphones," Dr. Bell said.

If it requires a visit, staff members will check your temperature at the door.

The dentists wear protective gear and they've installed a special filtration system in the treatment rooms.

"It incorporates a peroxide mist and a UV light and it kills viral contents in the air," he explained.

We checked in with dentists in Macon and Warner Robins, and now most dentists are seeing their own patients under emergency situations. A couple of dentists are doing telehealth, and a couple are closed.

The doctors at Family Dental Associates are on call and say they can do the telehealth consultations 24 hours a day.

Even if you don't have insurance, this telehealth service is free. They say if you need to go in for something, you can work out a payment plan.

Dr. Bell says if you do have a dentist, though, check with them first for your care.

The phone number to reach Family Dental Associates is 478-971-7701. 

They will walk you through downloading an app to communicate with them.

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