For more than 20 years, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation has been working to make good oral health a community priority. Traditionally our work was driven by our mission to eradicate childhood tooth decay. However, we were reaching beyond this focus. In 2017, the board and staff began a strategic planning process. The results informed an expanded population focus and new mission: to elevate the well-being of all Coloradans by advancing oral health equity.
Today, we envision a world where everyone can achieve their best oral health. There isn’t one solution that will address all oral health inequities. Social determinants, such as race and ethnicity, income, geography and age, greatly impact a person’s smile. Our goal is to create accessible oral health care across a lifespan.
We are deepening our understanding of oral health equity. By expanding our partnerships and collaborating with communities across the state, we intend to reach people who have been historically overlooked. We are helping to improve the oral health of all Coloradans.
In 2017, the foundation contributed $3.23 million in funding to support innovative programs that improve oral health and overall well-being.
Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017
Our Focus Areas
We create sustainable, measurable impact within three focus areas:
Access to Care
All Coloradans have affordable, accessible and comprehensive oral health care.
Prevention of Tooth Decay
Effective programs are available for prevention and early intervention of tooth decay.
Connections to Overall Health
Oral health is included as a vital part of overall health.
Looking at oral health in Colorado
People who have been historically overlooked are dealing with health inequities in many Colorado communities. As part of our strategic planning process, we partnered with the Colorado Health Institute to conduct a statewide oral health environmental scan, which provides statewide perspective and pinpoints health disparities. We shared the results and discussed next steps with our partners at a September convening hosted at the Colorado Health Foundation.Download a PDF
Colorado Medical-Dental Integration Project
Launched in 2015, the Colorado Medical-Dental Integration (CO MDI) Project:
- Integrates registered dental hygienists into medical care teams.
- Received a $750,000 grant to support Wave II from the Colorado Health Foundation.
- Released the CO MDI Toolkit to train grantees. This how-to guide is available for medical organizations seeking to fully integrate a dental hygienist into a medical care team.
“While the state’s average dentist to patient ratio is one to 1,350, Phillips County sits at one to 4,363. According to data from the Colorado Health Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the people of Holyoke and surrounding areas have 70 percent less access to care than their urban counterparts. Melissa Memorial’s selection as a CO MDI grantee means that more people in our community will now have the opportunity to improve their oral health.”
- Trampas Hutches
chief executive officer, Melissa Memorial Hospital, Holyoke, Colorado
Every community has unique needs, assets and priorities.
We partner with organizations to address community needs and implement activities to improve oral health in Colorado. Highlights of these relationships include:
Denver Public Health
Denver Public Health completed evaluation reports on the utilization of newly installed water filling stations primarily serving low-income children at six schools and one recreation center in metro Denver and Pueblo. In fall 2018, they will help promote the use of the Water Activation Influencer Toolkit to increase access to and consumption of water in schools and community centers throughout Colorado.
Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
Since opening in 2015, the Village of Healthy Smiles exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus has had more than 550,000 visitors.
Clinica Family Health
Through an innovation grant, Clinica Family Health worked to integrate dental data with physical health data in the care planner. This helped diminish isolation between the two domains and achieve care planning that is collaborative and coordinated.
Bright By Three
Bright By Text oral health texts were refreshed with new content, images and links to more resources. In 2017, 150,000+ texts were sent to Colorado families.
Cavity Free Kids trainings reached 194 professionals serving 1,033 children. Trainings occurred in Durango, Fort Morgan, Loveland, Fort Collins, Denver, Thornton, Limon, Southwest Denver, Lakewood and Delta.
University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine
Training dental, medical and pharmacy students together to identify the connection between oral health and physical health, the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine concluded its first semester of a collaborative program with Johnson & Wales University where students learned how to cook nutritious meals together. The culinary class was featured in stories in The Denver Post and CW2.
American Dental Hygienists’ Association
In July, we hosted "National Trends Impacting The Future of Dental Hygiene", which featured Ann Batrell, chief executive officer of the American Dental Hygienists' Association. Batrell explored emerging national trends in oral health and dental hygiene; presented thoughts about the future of dental hygiene; and outlined levers for change. In addition, the lecture provided continuing education credits for hygienists.
From the Blog
Finances & Who We Are
As a 501(c)(3) funded by the nonprofit Delta Dental of Colorado, we are grateful to the company and Board of Trustees for the financial support they provide for our work. Approximately 89% of our budget expenditures directly support our programs and initiatives. In 2017, we also partnered with the Colorado Health Foundation to combine funding that supported our CO MDI Wave II grantees.
Download a PDF