Delta Dental donates $62 Million to improve nation's oral health

Jan. 5, 2009
Donations aid uninsured children, help alleviate dentist shortage

OAK BROOK, Illinois--Delta Dental Plans Association has released its 2008 Community Benefit Annual Report.

The report shows that Delta Dental's 39 member companies donated more than $62 million in 2007 to support community benefit initiatives that advance and promote oral health. This exceeds the $58 million amount of the previous year. Public benefit support is up more than 290 percent from 2003's $15.8 million total.

"We are proud of our member companies' growing commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities we serve," said Kim Volk, president and CEO of Delta Dental Plans Association. "Through community outreach, education and services, we're helping fight dental disease and promoting our belief that everyone deserves good oral health."

Each of Delta Dental's 39 independent member companies and their affiliated foundations work actively within their communities to create and support programs that advance solutions for better oral health. The programs focus on expanding access to care for the uninsured and underinsured, alleviating the nation's growing dentist shortage, preventing dental disease and advancing dental science.

Expanding care for children
Children covered by Medicaid are much less likely to receive dental care than children with private health insurance, according to a report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In 2005, an estimated 6.5 million Medicaid eligible children ages 2 through 18 suffered from untreated tooth decay.

To narrow the gap between children who need and receive dental care, Delta Dental's member companies provide free care to uninsured and underinsured children. Free care includes regular dental check-ups, badly needed treatment, oral health education and even transportation to and from dental appointments.

For example, Delta Dental of Colorado's Foundation provides free care year-round to uninsured children through its Smile-a-Bration program. The Delta Dental Dakota Smiles Mobile Dental Program brings oral health services to children from limited-income families who would not otherwise have access to needed dental care.

Also, through a partnership with the National Head Start Association, Delta Dental helped treat more than 3,816 uninsured children in 2008.

Alleviating the nation's growing dentist shortage
There are more than 3,700 geographical locations across the country without enough dental health professionals, according to the American Dental Education Association.

In fact, an estimated 46 million Americans are living in identified Dental Health Profession Shortage Areas and 9,000 additional dentists are needed to fill this gap in care.

Delta Dental's member companies support programs that encourage dentists to practice in shortage areas and encourage college students to choose a career in dentistry.

The cost of dental school can be a great burden for students and continues to rise, so Delta Dental's member companies help alleviate the burden with loan repayment programs, scholarships, and grants.

For instance, 88 of Iowa's 99 counties are designated dentist shortage areas. To help, Delta Dental of Iowa awards three $50,000 loan repayment grants annually to dentists who agree to practice in one of the shortage areas and deliver 35 percent of patient services to underserved populations.

These are just few examples of what Delta Dental's member companies are doing to improve oral health in their communities.

To view the 2008 Community Benefit Annual Report and learn more about what Delta Dental is doing, go to Delta Dental.

To read more about Delta Dental, go to Delta Dental.

To comment on this subject, go to PennWell Dental Community site.

References available from company upon request.