Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation awards $750,000 grant to fund interdisciplinary oral health care trial

By Lora Vitek on March 3, 2022 in Corporate Social Responsibility

photo of a toothbrush and cup of blue mouthwash for oral hygiene

The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation has awarded a $750,000 grant to fund a two-year, interdisciplinary oral health care trial in partnership with two Illinois hospitals and a neighboring university. The participating partners include the University of Illinois School of Nursing and Hospital, Northwest Community Hospital and the University of Illinois College of Dentistry. The oral health study is aimed at preventing non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia (NVHAP), which is the most deadly and costly of all hospital-acquired infections.1

Oral health is critical to overall health, and oral hygiene protocols are a key factor in reducing NVHAP. Research shows that in the first 48 hours after patients are hospitalized, germs can move quickly from the mouth into the lungs, resulting in pneumonia. Nurse innovator Karen Giuliano and research partner Dian Baker are spearheading the NVHAP research trial to further investigate the risk factors and how to mitigate them through oral care intervention.

While quality improvement initiatives at hospitals over the last 10 years have focused on successfully reducing the number of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), there are no regulations requiring hospitals to address NVHAP. As a result, patients — especially those who are critically ill, but remain non-ventilated — are at significant risk of developing the deadly infection.

We work to improve the health and well-being of Illinoisans, and this grant will provide data to help Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation and our hospital partners do just that.

At the end of the study, the data will reveal the effectiveness of oral hygiene for pneumonia prevention among hospitalized patients. And as a result, will hopefully lead to hospital implementation of standardized oral care intervention for at-risk patients. 

Learn more about the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation and how you can help further our mission to improve the oral and overall health of Illinoisans.