Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation Newsletter: January 2019
A Message from our Executive Director
A Smile speaks volumes—it portrays happiness, excitement, nervousness, love, and so much more. But individuals in dental pain aren’t smiling, and that pain can also impede learning, deter eating, and inhibit employment.
Delta Dental of Wisconsin’s commitment to improving oral health for Wisconsin residents has been at the core of our mission for more than fifty years. Now, with the formation of the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation, we will be able to more directly affect our mission, address gaps in care, and lead innovation that will help vulnerable populations receive critically needed dental services.
We are proud of the work we have accomplished in the past, but we are truly excited about what the future holds for the Foundation and our state. In our newsletter, you will learn about some of the programs we are working with to prevent painful cavities and expand access to care. In addition, Dr. Fred Eichmiller, Vice President & Science Officer at Delta Dental of Wisconsin, will provide us with insights on the latest pilot projects and dental research.
There is a lot to be done, but with other partners and influencers, we know we can make further impacts, and make a lot more Wisconsin residents smile!
Delta Dental of Wisconsin and Special Olympics Wisconsin Create Smiles in 2018
Special Olympics Special Smiles is a program where volunteer dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and general volunteers provide oral health screenings and education to athletes and their caregivers. All athletes participating in a screening received education, dental care supplies, fluoride varnish, and a mouth guard if appropriate for the sport they participated in. Any athlete needing follow-up care was referred to a local dental provider or Mission of Mercy, which took place in Milwaukee on June 22 and 23.
This year alone, the four State Games screened 643 athletes, and 318 received a fluoride varnish application. 223 individuals were also fitted with a mouth guard. The number of athletes screened increased significantly compared to previous years.
In the past 10 years, the Special Olympics Special Smiles program has provided dental services to more than 5,000 athletes.
Since the program’s inception in 2002, Delta Dental of Wisconsin has been the exclusive statewide sponsor.
Back to the Future - Silver Diamine Fluoride
More than a century ago, silver was first used to stop painful dental decay. While Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) was first introduced in Japan in 1969, it gained clearance to be used in the United States from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014.
SDF is a liquid substance used to help prevent caries from forming, growing, and/or spreading to other teeth, and is made up of four parts: silver, water, fluoride, and ammonia. It’s applied directly to the surface of the teeth, and only needs to be applied once per year – although it is more effective if applied more than once.
Once SDF is applied, the decay turns black. If not applied carefully, surrounding tissue may also temporarily turn black. However, when used on primary teeth of a child or on a back molar, the positive results far outweigh the con of discoloration.
Several populations can benefit from SDF, including children, individuals with special healthcare needs, elderly, and cancer patients. It is quick, painless, and has an extremely high success rate of stopping decay and preventing new decay from forming. SDF is also often used as a stopgap for patients needing oral surgery or other more extensive treatments that take time to complete.
So it’s "Back to the Future" of dental care, using SDF where appropriate on your patients!
The Cool Water Program
The Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation is excited to announce that its new Cool Water Program will kick off in 2019. Through the program, schools can apply to have an existing water fountain replaced with a new water bottle filling station and fountain. The grant covers the cost of the full installation and provides toothbrushes and dishwasher-safe water bottles for all students and staff as well.
Criteria for how grants will be awarded:
- Schools need to be within a community with optimally fluoridated water
- Schools must have a free-and-reduced meal rate of 40% or higher
- Schools can apply if they currently do not have a water bottle filling station installed
- Selection will be based on the most creative and impactful implementation plans that will encourage students and staff to drink more water
Drinking water during the school day is a healthy alternative to sugary beverages like soda, juice, and sports drinks. More importantly, drinking fluoridated water is essential in keeping teeth strong and cavity-free; water washes away harmful bacteria from the mouth and the fluoride strengthens the enamel of teeth. Drinking water can also help combat obesity, increase energy levels, and improve students’ cognitive functions.
“The Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation sees an opportunity to help prevent cavities,” said Megan Tenpas, community outreach specialist. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is an increase in the number of sugary beverages kids drink. One out of every five third grade students has untreated decay. The Cool Water Program hopes to help change that landscape a bit.”
Applications will be available from February 1 through March 31 on the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation’s website, www.deltadentalwi.com/foundation. Schools will be selected and awarded the grants in April, with installation planned for the summer.
Giving Veterans the Smile They Deserve
The Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation is committed to supporting programs that extend access to care to vulnerable populations. The “Give Vets a Smile” event, initiated by Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), provides much-needed care to Wisconsin’s veterans. The Foundation has supported the program for the past two years by providing a grant to cover the cost of the dental materials and marketing for this unique event.
Many veterans do not have access to dental care as a part of their regular veterans’ benefits unless the oral problem is related to their time serving. CVTC started “Give Vets a Smile" to support those veterans, and the fourth annual event was held on Saturday, November 3. This year alone, 91 veterans received needed dental services from volunteer dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and dental hygiene students.
The procedures included cleanings, X-rays, exams, fluoride treatments, fillings, extractions, limited root-canal therapy, and limited denture services. In addition to dental care, veterans could also receive screenings for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and nutrition, flu shots, assistive device assessments, haircuts, and chair massages – all free of charge!
“We’re honored to support this event,” said Ann Boson, executive director of the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation. “The partnership among Chippewa Valley Technical College, the volunteer dental professionals, and Delta Dental is a perfect example of our mission at work to ensure needed dental care is provided to these remarkable individuals who sacrificed so much for our country.”
Delta Dental's Commitment to Ensuring a Strong Wisconsin Dental Workforce
Maintaining a strong dental workforce throughout Wisconsin is a critical component of our mission. The Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation Public Health Fellowship is a unique workforce grant which provides up to three Marquette University School of Dentistry graduates the opportunity to practice for a year at a clinic focused on underserved populations.
Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in Eau Claire and Tri-County Community Dental Clinic (Tri-County) in Appleton are the two sites benefiting from this program. Not only do the fellows gain training and competency on difficult procedures, but the dental clinics also can provide care to more clients and help reduce their waiting lists. “The Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation fellowship program has played a huge part in providing more than 8,800 additional procedures per year to the underserved in our community,” said J.J. Schauske, clinic director at Tri-County.
The fellows also gain an awareness of public health dentistry programs and how critical they are to the dental health of many in Wisconsin. One of the goals of the program is encouraging the fellows to continue providing care to those in need beyond the fellowship, as well as continuing to practice in the state of Wisconsin. Since the program’s inception in 2008, nearly all of the former fellows are practicing in state.
Many rural dentists do not have the option to refer their patients to dental specialists, and this program allows the fellows to receive that additional specialized hands-on training and continue that care throughout their careers. The program continues to be an important component of focus not only to CVTC and Tri-County, but also to the thousands of patients around the state receiving specialized care not previously available.
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