Macoupin County Public Health Department awarded $100,000 Wisdom Tooth Award

Posted on July 20, 2018 in In the Community

Grant to help provide much-needed dental services to Illinois children

More than 1,300 Illinois children in Macoupin County and the surrounding area go without much needed dental care each year. Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of Delta Dental of Illinois, is granting its sixth annual $100,000 Wisdom Tooth Award to the Macoupin County Public Health Department (MCPHD), so they can meet this serious oral health need by providing dental services and preventive education to these children.

MCPHD serves the residents of Macoupin County, which is recognized as a low-income Dental Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), and nine surrounding counties in rural West Central Illinois. Additionally, there are no pediatric dentists in this area, making MCPHD one of the only dental clinics serving children in this part of the state.

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation's $100,000 Wisdom Tooth Award covers nearly half of MCHPD's budget to add dental staff for its clinic and school-based oral health services, as well as support for a new, four-chair dental clinic to serve area children from birth to age 18 slated to open in 2018. MCPHD currently serves 3,055 children each year. There are more than 1,300 area children on referral or wait lists who are not receiving the oral health care they need. Oral health issues left untreated can manifest as future education, employment and social failures, as well as more comprehensive and costly treatment and overall health concerns as these children age into adulthood. With the Wisdom Tooth Award, MCPHD will be able to provide services to more than 4,355 children annually, eliminating a severe obstacle to good oral health and overall well-being.

“We are pleased to present the 2018 Wisdom Tooth Award to the Macoupin County Public Health Department,” said Bernie Glossy, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Illinois and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. “The need for pediatric dental services in this part of the state is tremendous, and the Wisdom Tooth Award will allow MCPHD to provide dental services to nearly double the number of children it sees today. These are children who would otherwise not receive any dental care.”

Each year, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation grants the Wisdom Tooth Award to an organization that significantly improves the oral health of Illinois children, in keeping with its mission to improve oral health in Illinois through education, awareness and improved access to care. This year, the Foundation selected MCPHD from 11 applicants, underscoring how great the need is throughout the state.

“Access to dental care remains a significant barrier for Macoupin County residents, especially low-income children,” said Kent Tarro, administrator of the Macoupin County Public Health Department. “Tooth decay and oral health problems are prevalent in our area with the number of children requiring immediate dental treatment and suffering from one or more cavities and untreated dental decay all increasing. The most recent MCPHD statistics show that 10 percent of Macoupin County children in kindergarten through third grade require immediate dental treatment, 64 percent have one or more cavities, and 36 percent have untreated tooth decay. The Wisdom Tooth Award will help us close the significant oral health gap in our area and provide the children who desperately need our services a foundation for good oral and overall health.”

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation's Wisdom Tooth Award was launched in 2013 and was designed to help expand or enhance an existing children's oral health program in Illinois. In addition to MCPHD, the following Illinois organizations have received the Wisdom Tooth Award since its inception: Promise Healthcare in Champaign (2013); St. Bernard Hospital Dental Center in Chicago (2014); Central Counties Health Centers, Inc. in Springfield (2015); Crusader Community Health in Rockford (2016); and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry (2017).

For more information about Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation's Wisdom Tooth Award or to support the Foundation, please visit