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Dr. Maria Kunstadter: A Medical Leader Revolutionizing Dentistry with Smart Devices

Maria Kunstadter
Maria Kunstadter

As humans today, we have a long way to go with technology. Today we function at the tip of our fingers, using smartphones, laptops or tablets. In the field of healthcare, technological equipment has made life convenient for patients and healthcare workers. Being a leader in tele-dentistry means addressing dental concerns, helping patients maintain oral health, and providing guidance on proper oral hygiene routines.

Exploring the limitations of dental services, Dr. Maria Kunstadter, CEO and Co-Founder at The TeleDentists, provides virtual consultations for patients. Maria brings her medical talent as a dentist, working together to add AI to the services for second opinions on reading X-rays.

All of this highlighted the attention of Insights Care, and we interviewed Maria to know her opinion towards the working of technology and healthcare and what the future holds.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Kindly brief us about yourself and the inspiration behind venturing into the healthcare domain.

Sciences were my area of interest, and healthcare was where I wanted to apply that interest. First fore was in pharmacy school, where I realized, after 6 weeks of organic chemistry, that I hated chemistry. So, I pivoted to dietetics—biology and nutrition were a great fit. In my internship as a Dietitian, I kept noticing in the hospital that “The Doctor” had an impact in the patient care. I wanted to have that “power” and did not want to be a physician, so dental school here I come!! I loved my dental practice and work for years with patients and staff to provide dental care.

Please brief our audience about The TeleDentists and how you decided to start the company.

As a dentist, I was appointed the Dental Director of the PAINS Alliance, a group trying to impact chronic pain patients’ needs when the opioid crisis was just getting started. In Washington, DC, at meetings addressing pain, toothache was always in the top 10 reasons people go to the emergency room! Since there is rarely a dentist in the ERs, patients were waiting hours to be seen, getting a bill for thousands of dollars, given a prescription for pain medication and told to go find a dentist. That year the American Dental Association also came out with research that showed $2.2B in healthcare dollars spent in one year on toothache codes in the ERs. That was $2.2B spent without treatment, referral or care given. That had to change. Sitting at my table were physicians doing telemedicine and it just hit me—that’s what is needed—a virtual dentist in the ER to provide the right specialist at the right time for the patient. And The TeleDentists was born. We started in 2014.

Tell us about the variety of dental services offered by your company.

We provide virtual consultations to patients for urgent or emergent dental issues. We triage their dental issue, can e-prescribe medication if indicated and, if a patient needs to be seen for hands-on care, we triage them to a dental office. Our dental team educates the patient on their presenting problem options for care and advises on home care as well. We have telehygienists that can assist with questions like how to do home care, what products to buy and whitening, cosmetic questions. Our virtual ToothFairy can visit children when they have a loose tooth or lost a tooth and share the fun of that magic event with the parents and child. The Fairy tales that time to educate families on good oral health care for children and parents. We have a MarketPlace of oral health products that we have vetted and recommended for cases that need additional care. And we provide dental offices with our system so they can do virtual consultations with their patients and expand their reach to the community. Coming soon will be our Second Opinion section powered by AI.

In what way do you consider technological advances to be a pathway in conducting your operations? 

My partner said early in the development of the company that we should have started this business 10 years prior. But, I pointed out that the technology hadn’t been developed, the marketplace didn’t demand it and the healthcare system wasn’t ready—Covid changed all that!! Now,a  Virtual Dentist is available 24/7 wherever/whenever a dentists is needed. The right specialist at the right time can triage the patient’s problem, educate the patient on options and e-prescribe medications if needed.

What endeavors are you currently pursuing to improve service measures?

I work with CTeL—the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Legislation to help develop legislation on the national level to promote and provide teledentistry nationally. We are also adding AI to our services for second opinions to read X-rays. We are expanding our Dental/Medical Integration by providing a webinar on Silver Diamine Fluoride training for medical professionals and community health professionals and much more.

What are some of the challenges you face as a CEO of a dynamic organization and how do you turn them into opportunities for growth?

When I started dental school, only 3% of practicing dentists were women, so I am used to pushing against prevailing winds. Currently, only 4% of healthcare executives are women and, only 2% of venture capital money goes to women-owned companies—the squeeze makes it hard to rise to the same level as the other 98% of male-owned companies. As anyone that identifies with an economically disadvantaged group knows—it just makes you work harder and smarter.

What advice would you like to give to budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who desire to venture into the healthcare sector?

Good luck and find a niche that needs the female touch!!!!

What are your plans for scaling up your operations and services in 2023 and beyond?

We are seeking funding to expand our company 10X and go internationally. The World Health Organization, in Dec 2022, called for oral health to be part of the Univerisal Health Care by 2030—there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and we have the tools to do that work—TeleDentistry.



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