MDCH, Delta Dental of Michigan team up to fight tooth decay

Oct. 6, 2008
Varnish! Michigan program could benefit more than 8,000 low-income children.

LANSING, Michigan--The Michigan Department of Community Health and Delta Dental of Michigan has announced continued funding for the Varnish! Michigan program with the goal of helping more than 8,000 children fight tooth decay.

With an additional $194,000 commitment in Fiscal Year 2008-09, Delta Dental of Michigan has now provided nearly half a million dollars to help reduce tooth decay for tens of thousands of low-income children in Michigan.

Launched in 2007, the program provides applications of fluoride varnish on the teeth of low-income children up to 5 years of age.

"Tooth decay can easily be prevented with proper care but many of Michigan's children do not have access to this care and develop dental disease early in life," said MDCH Director Janet Olszewski. "We are grateful for Delta Dental's continuing commitment to this program because it allows us to positively impact the dental health of thousands of Michigan children."

State officials expect the treatment to reduce tooth decay between 48 and 60 percent for the children involved.

"Delta Dental of Michigan is pleased to continue this partnership with MDCH because it can make a significant difference in the oral and overall health of so many children in our state," said Thomas J. Fleszar, DDS, MS, president and chief executive officer. "We know oral health has a tremendous impact on a person's overall health. We commend the MDCH for its leadership in advancing and promoting this program for Michigan's children."

MDCH plans to provide more than 17,000 varnish applications to the teeth of more than 8,000 children during Fiscal Year 2008-09. In addition, children will receive dental screenings and referrals for treatment and ongoing care. Head Start staff also will provide parents or caregivers with educational materials about the importance of good dental health habits.

The Varnish! Michigan commitment is part of an ongoing partnership between MDCH and Delta Dental of Michigan. Since 2000, Delta Dental has administered MDCH's successful Healthy Kids Dental program for Medicaid-eligible children, now available in 59 Michigan counties. The American Dental Association named Healthy Kids Dental a national model for improving access to dental care for low-income populations.

Earlier this year, Delta Dental and MDCH also collaborated to produce a public service campaign, "I smile because ..." to inform Michigan residents about the importance of good oral care. The campaign's 30-second television spot is available via the MDCH Web site at Michigan Department of Community Health.

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