Rewind to 1997. “Titanic” ruled the box office; Hanson had everyone singing MMMBop; and Delta Dental of Arizona launched one of the most impactful non-profit oral health organizations in the state.
“Delta Dental of Arizona started the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation (DDAZF) with the mission to improve oral health across the state, particularly for uninsured and underinsured groups and communities,” said Barb Kozuh, director of community benefit for Delta Dental of Arizona. “To give perspective, in the past 15 years alone, we’ve provided more than $13 million in community benefit support for oral health promotion and dental disease prevention programs across the state.”
According to Kozuh, DDAZF Community Grants support programs and organizations statewide that provide oral health education and services for uninsured and underserved children, pregnant women and seniors. These grants range from $2,500 to $25,000.
“Over the past year, we’ve been very proud to work with multiple organizations across Flagstaff through these grants,” said Kozuh.
Here is a look at how two local grant recipients are using their funds:
Flagstaff Medical Center
The Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC) was given a grant in the amount of $10,000 to support its Prevention for Children with Chronic and/or Disabling Conditions program. The program benefits patients at the FMC’s Children’s Health Center who have conditions including muscular dystrophy or sclerosis, spina bifida, spinal cord injuries and autism, each of which can inhibit one’s ability to use a regular toothbrush. Many of the children also have sensory processing issues, so an electric toothbrush over a manual one is of critical importance to ensure proper care. As such, the funds have directly been used to purchase electric toothbrush kits for more than 2,579 children to date. These kits include: a battery-operated toothbrush, replacement brushes, toothpaste and floss. Fluoride varnish treatments, oral health education and instruction are also provided.
Beaver Creek Smiles
Beaver Creek Smiles, a program of the Northern Arizona University Department of Dental Hygiene, was given a grant in the amount of $25,000. The funds were used to transport nearly 250 children in need from the Beaver Creek Elementary School District’s to NAU so each is able to receive comprehensive dental hygiene care in the form of oral education, prophylaxis, dental exams, X-rays, fluoride varnish, resin sealants (if applicable) and restorative referrals/resources. The goal of the program is to improve overall oral health by providing direct preventive services and increase access to care by transporting students living in a provider-shortage area to the treatment clinic.
Beyond its formal grant program, DDAZF has several outreach services, notably one that allows them to provide more than 300,000 free toothbrushes to over 100 non-profit organizations each year. In addition, Delta Dental of Arizona works with First Things First to provide birthing hospitals across the state, including throughout Coconino County, with toothbrushes, toothpaste and educational materials for new mothers and their children in the Parent Kit mothers receive when their child is born. FBN
By Alison Bailin Batz, FBN
For more, visit deltadentalaz.com.