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Dentist Makes NYC House Calls a Reality

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The city is home to 1.3 million New Yorkers who are 65 or older, many of whom deal with an array of health complications including dental, and now one dentist is hoping to address their needs. NY1’s Erin Billups filed the following report.

Dentist David Blende and his assistant recently arrived at an Upper East Side appointment by cab with just a couple of suitcases, full of everything they’ll need to service the day’s patient, Corazon Frattali.

After suffering a stroke in October, the usually fearless grandmother was suddenly homebound and in need of dental attention.

“I’m staying indoors which I never do. I love to go out with my friends, I pick up my grandkids,” Frattali says.

A friend referred Frattali to the west coast dentist, who’s recently launched his House Call Dentists practice in New York City.

“There’s a great need for, especially seniors, seniors are a little less ambulatory, or people for convenience sake or a special needs patient… to get care to come to them,” Blende says.

One 2011 study done by researchers at NYU College of Dentistry and Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that the vast majority of homebound patients surveyed hadn’t seen a dentist in three to six years and needed some type of dental treatment beyond simple oral hygiene.

“It’s less costly for most if you think about if you have a grandparent you take off the day of work or you arrange for transport or a nurse to take your mother,” Blende says.

Frattali’s visit was more for maintenance, assessing the status of her teeth, doing X-rays.

But with a team of specialists and even more equipment, Blende says almost anything is possible as long as the patient isn’t too fragile.

“Routinely we do, do crowns, we do, do fillings. We were doing root canals yesterday,” Blende says.

Blende has a staff of 14, supporting three dentists, doing house calls in the San Francisco area. He’s still working on his hospital affiliations in the city and hopes to soon have about six specialists to support him and another dentist.

“There are some house call dentists here but they’re doing what would be considered more palliative care, maybe relining in a denture or doing a cleaning. Whereas we’re a bit more equipped to do the concierge-style dentistry,” Blende says.

And it’s not cheap. Blende doesn’t take dental insurance. But he may be on to something in a city with an elderly population that’s set to double in the next 15 years.