By: Vivian Vasallo, Executive Director of the Delta Dental Institute
Today, the Delta Dental Institute is proud to release the 2021 Community Impact Report, Our mission: your health, which highlights Delta Dental's efforts and initiatives to improve the oral and overall health of communities across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
Last year, Delta Dental invested $106 million in our communities — an increase over 2020 — and positively impacted more than 21 million lives by expanding access to care, advancing health equity, building resilient communities, and innovating for a healthier tomorrow.
Our mission calls us to help those who face challenges gaining access to the care they need. In 2021 Delta Dental supported dental treatment and prevention programs that reached 10 million people. Our efforts addressed critical problems; for example, our school sealant programs protected over 267,000 kids from cavities, the most prevalent chronic disease in children. We also scaled our impact through advocacy, helping communities advance policies such as access to dental benefits in Medicaid. Thanks in part to Delta Dental of Wisconsin's efforts, Medicaid enrollment rates in that state increased by 40%!
Additionally, access to care must be equal for all, which is why equity is at the heart of what we do. In 2021, we affirmed our commitment to equity through new diversity, equity, and inclusion guiding principles, which anchor all of our community impact work. To fight the unacceptable health disparities experienced by vulnerable populations, Delta Dental supported scholarships and other workforce development efforts so that the next generation of oral health care workers might better reflect the diversity of its communities. Delta Dental continued to serve as a champion of the only two HBCU dental schools in America, Howard University and Meharry Medical College. We also supported oral health education programs in underserved communities, including school programs.
While oral health has long been our focus, our mission extends well beyond that. Which is why, as part of our focus on overall health, we carefully considered social determinants of health in our efforts to build resilient communities, including helping to improve access to healthy food and clean water during a year when food instability was high. Delta Dental employees also used our time and talent to support those in need, dedicating 17,000 hours to volunteering.
We know that tomorrow's health challenges won't be solved by today's solutions alone. By funding research on topics like early childhood oral health intervention and supporting new care models and technologies like teledentistry, we focused on the future. In partnership with leading institutions the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, and the University of Iowa, the Delta Dental Institute is catalyzing actionable solutions for fighting oral health disparities and improving access to oral health.
For nearly 70 years, Delta Dental has been driven by our mission to advance the oral and overall health of the people we serve and the communities we call home. We're so proud of the positive impact Delta Dental and our partners have been able to make for millions of people across the country, and look forward to continuing on the journey toward better health for all.