The not-for-profit Delta Dental Plans Association reports that its member companies supported 1,425 programs throughout the United States and donated more than $61 million in direct and in-kind community outreach in 2017, helping more than 10.2 million people nationwide.
“The Delta Dental member companies’ actionable investments in communities across the nation demonstrate their genuine commitment to improving lives, one smile at a time,” said Steven R. Olson, president and CEO of the Delta Dental Plans Association.
“As community partners, the Delta Dental companies continuously evaluate where and how they can create meaningful outcomes that can have a lasting, positive effect on oral health and overall health,” said Olson.
According to Delta Dental, its efforts increased access to oral healthcare through direct programming and financial support of dental workforce education; provided treatment to at-risk children and adults; and expanded oral health awareness, education, and wellness.
For example, Delta Dental’s oral health education programs reached 4.3 million people in 2017 through programs such as the Land of Smiles educational tour, which has taught more than 900,000 children about oral health in more than 4,500 performances in Missouri since 2002.
Plus, the Cavity Free Kids curriculum teaches early learning providers such as Head Start about what causes tooth decay and how to work with families to prevent oral disease and promote good health, with training delivered in 19 states.
“We understand how a healthy smile changes a life. A smile can boost confidence, express feeling, help get a job, and tell a story,” said Joe Dill, DDS, MBA, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president of dental science and network strategy.
“Establishing positive oral hygiene habits at a young age is critical to laying the foundation for good oral health. Delta Dental’s oral health education programs are designed to be informative and engaging, making them ideal for helping brushers and flossers in training establish good habits for a lifetime,” Dill said.
The Children’s Oral Health Survey shows that children who brush as often as they should are more likely than those who don’t, 67% versus 60%, to take pride in their smile. The “smile pride” gap improves with flossing to 79% versus 63%.
Also, children who brush two or more times a day are more likely than those who brush less often to be proud of their personal success (68% versus 48%), performance in school (66% versus 47%), and good eating habits (45% versus 32%).
Prevention also is a key part of Delta Dental’s efforts, the company says, with 4.2 million people served by its prevention initiatives in 2017, including community water fluoridation, school sealant programs, and screenings.
In Wisconsin, the Seal-A-Smile program helps to reduce the incidence of caries and other oral health problems among school-aged children in vulnerable segments of the population. Also, the Rethink Your Drink program updated or replaced existing water fountains with water bottle filling stations at many schools in Iowa.
And, more than 1.3 million at-risk children and adults were treated for dental diseases and cavities in 2017. For instance, in South Dakota, two fully staffed mobile dental clinics tour the state an average of 40 weeks a year to treat underserved children.
Furthermore, the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation expanded access to care for more than 130,000 residents in need through increased capacity at safety net dental clinics in the state. It also awarded grants to more than a dozen not-for-profit clinics and had another 10 active grants from prior years focused on access to care.
Finally, Delta Dental says, more than 330,000 people benefited from its support of oral health research, dental workforce education, dental sponsorships, and non-health-related aid, including relief for natural disasters and its No Chew Crew anti-smokeless tobacco program in partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team.
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