Expanding Access To Oral Health Care Through Actionable Community Investments

By Vivian Vasallo, Executive Director of the Delta Dental Institute

The Delta Dental Institute is committed to ensuring all Americans have a healthy smile. As the Executive Director of the Institute, I’m so proud to be able to spotlight the incredible work the Delta Dental companies are doing to expand access to oral health care in their communities. It's one of the reasons I am most excited to join the Institute and to advance this critical cause.

Across the nation, the Delta Dental companies are on the ground in their communities every day supporting students, providing access to those in need, educating future dental practitioners, and working to advance the cause of oral health. In fact, over the course of 2018, the Delta Dental companies made a combined $79 million in direct and in-kind contributions, enhancing 11 million Americans' oral and overall health and supporting 1,700 community programs. These efforts represent a significant increase from 2017 as Delta Dental continues to invest in oral health programs nationwide.

While philanthropy creates wonderful opportunities for the Delta Dental companies to be involved in their local communities, these investments are also driving meaningful change for the oral health of all Americans. Across the nation, Delta Dental companies enabled the treatment of millions of underserved children and adults through free dental clinics. Beyond providing direct access to oral health care, Delta Dental's efforts produce a ripple effect that will create a lasting impact. For example, their partnerships with dental schools are shaping the future workforce, in-school programs are educating children about the benefits of good oral hygiene, and research grants are exploring new technologies and discoveries in dental science. By addressing both today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities, Delta Dental is improving oral health nationwide for generations to come.

Prevention: Good oral health depends on proper prevention. That's why many Delta Dental companies oversee programs to ensure people are taking care of their teeth before an issue arises. Some of these initiatives include water fluoridation, school sealant programs, screenings, and fluoride treatments. Last year, more than 4.5 million individuals benefitted from Delta Dental's support for these community-based programs.

Treatment: While prevention is key to maintaining good oral health, not everyone is able to get regular check-ups. As a result, many people, both children and adults, suffer from tooth decay and related diseases. To respond to this significant need, many Delta Dental companies provide direct access to dental treatment. In fact, nearly half of last year’s combined Delta Dental community investments went toward treating almost 1.6 million children and adults for dental diseases and cavities.

Education: The Delta Dental companies focus additional efforts outside of the dental office by supporting oral health research, sponsoring preventive dental programs, and helping to educate the dental workforce. More than 366,000 people have benefited from this outreach, and Delta Dental companies continue to broaden their reach in schools and communities.

This work is having a major impact in communities all across the country and reminds me of the central tenant of the Delta Dental Institute's mission: we are committed to ensuring all Americans have the healthy smile they deserve and can live their healthiest lives. We are proud to spotlight the Delta Dental companies’ amazing efforts from 2018.

To learn more about the Delta Dental companies' work in communities across America, check out the Delta Dental Institute’s community spotlight page.