Our vision of a healthy smile for all includes advancing oral health equity and creating more accessible oral health care across the lifespan. Every community is unique and the people who know them best are the people who are part of them. That’s why Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation partners with communities to re-imagine how all of our neighbors access, benefit from, and value the importance of proper oral health care.
We’re proud to partner with 31 Colorado nonprofit organizations and provide $3.5 million in funding over three years through our 2019 Open Funding. This process encourages organizations to propose strategies that increase access to oral health care, prevention of tooth decay and strengthen the connection between oral health and overall health. We take a listening approach. This means during open funding we had a conversation with each of the 74 applicants, helping us better understand local assets, needs and obstacles.
2019 Open Funding grantees are based in the 17 highlighted counties. Three of the organizations have a statewide reach, and 43 of 64 Colorado counties are served by the other 28 organizations.
As a 2018 grantee, Marillac Health used their funding to become the first federally qualified health center in Colorado to hire a denturist. Having a professional who makes dentures on staff opened up nearly 2,500 appointment slots every year, allowing Marillac to care for many more Mesa County residents.
“In the past, our dentists had always done all of those appointments and that tied up our four dentists from being able to see new patients and handle emergency visits. A dedicated denturist means that there are more appointments for regular dental visits as well as a faster time frame for getting dentures,” said Jacque Pipe, associate director of development at Marillac.
“Being a partner in a rural dental practice has allowed me to see the challenges and barriers to access for patients,” said Dr. Kim Kretsch, DDS, a Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation board member. “But I can also tell you that owning and operating a dental clinic in most any community in Colorado brings challenges. Delivery of dental care is more complex than ever. From provider to patient and every step in between, the lessons learned from our grant applicants are crucial to help us grow with the needs of our communities.”
The next application process for Open Funding will begin on June 1, 2020. Our work in grant-making and furthering oral health equity is made possible through funding by Delta Dental of Colorado. Together, and alongside our community partners, we go the extra mile for every smile.