As a non-profit, Delta Dental of Colorado works to improve the oral health of the people of Colorado. At the request of Board of Trustees member, Dr. Jon Anderson, a dentist in private practice in Ft. Collins, Delta Dental of Colorado recently provided Project Smile with a $15,000 grant. Project Smile is a program in Fort Collins that started as a partnership between the North Fort Collins Business Association and Irish Elementary School. The staff at the school expressed a great need for dental care for their students. Since its start, Project Smile has worked with private practice dentists, the Health District of Northern Larimer County, and private donors to increase access to childhood dental services. The goal of Project Smile is to offer services for every child in the Poudre School District in need of dental care. In addition to providing treatment for dental disease, they also place a strong focus on preventive services.
The link between childhood dental disease and poor school performance has been well-documented. Students who face dental problems often miss more days of school or spend more time in the nurse’s office rather than in the classroom. In addition, the pain caused by dental problems can lead to a number of problems ranging from difficulty eating and resulting hunger to learning difficulties. Preventive dental services and proper treatment have been shown to greatly reduce tooth pain and the resulting problems. By improving access to dental care, Project Smile hopes to improve success in school and overall health of children in Fort Collins.
Currently, the program serves children at Irish and Putnam Elementary schools and beyond. During the 2009/2010 school year, over 500 children got dental care through Project Smile. As their program grows, their costs increase. Costs are also higher when they see more children with severe disease. Project Smile has seen a great decrease in the number of children with cavities and severe dental problems in the areas they serve. Because of its strong focus on improving children’s oral health, Project Smile was an ideal program for Delta Dental of Colorado to support. Project Smile depends on community support to continue to improve the oral health of Colorado’s kids. Donations from organizations like Delta Dental of Colorado, businesses, and individuals are needed to support their mission.
If you would like to learn more about Project Smile or make a donation to their program, please click here to visit their website.