Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation Announces $2 Million Donation to Improve Children's Oral Health
Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation has announced a $1 million grant to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry and a $1 million grant to the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Dental Medicine. The combined $2 million gift will allow both the College and School to serve thousands of additional Illinois children annually and significantly decrease the wait time for treatment by creating state-of-the-art ambulatory centers focused on children's oral health needs. The centers will feature procedure rooms specifically designed for children with innovative equipment such as cone beam CT, a special kind of X-ray, and new sedation suites.
“Delta Dental of Illinois and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation believe every Illinois child deserves a healthy smile and good oral health,” said Bernie Glossy, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Illinois and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. “Oral health is integral to overall health, and it's staggering how many children in Illinois have untreated tooth decay, especially when you consider it's largely preventable. We are pleased to help provide dental professionals, faculty and students at UIC College of Dentistry and SIU School of Dental Medicine with modern facilities to deliver high-quality, comprehensive dental care and oral health education to establish a lifetime of good oral health and overall well-being for all Illinois children.”
According to a recent statewide oral health assessment report Oral Health in Illinois, funded by Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation and the Michael Reese Health Trust, poor oral health is one of the most pressing, unmet health care issues facing Illinois children today. The report found that one-third of Illinois children in rural areas have untreated tooth decay and that Illinois children living in poverty are five times more likely to have fair or poor oral health. Oral health issues left untreated can manifest as future health, education, employment and social failures, as well as more comprehensive and costly treatment and overall health concerns as these children age into adulthood.
Children with special needs and those in need of extensive dental work often require sedation to get the oral health treatment they need. The shortage of dental providers and facilities able to offer timely, safe and comprehensive treatment results in significant waiting periods of up to two years for dental treatment.
Improving the oral health of the communities it serves is part of the mission of Delta Dental of Illinois and its Foundation. Together, they have funded $5 million for oral health initiatives in Illinois over the last decade.
UIC College of Dentistry
The UIC College of Dentistry serves children from across the state. In 2016 alone, the UIC Department of Pediatric Dentistry performed more than 250,000 procedures on more than 30,000 patients. Although the UIC College of Dentistry treats a large number of young patients every year, more than 1,300 children currently awaiting care require dental treatment under general anesthesia. The wait time for these services is two years and often includes visits to the emergency room to manage acute dental care problems during that period.
“Through Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation's support, we will be able to greatly reduce wait times for children who are in critical need of dental treatment,” said Dr. Clark Stanford, dean, UIC College of Dentistry. “Currently, 97 percent of our patients are covered by Medicaid and nearly one-third of our patients have special health care needs. These funds will help us meet the rapidly-increasing demand for these types of dental services, especially among low-income communities and children with special needs, and will also help us develop efficiencies within our facilities to allow medical and dental professionals to work closely together to better manage treatment and care for medically compromised patients.”
Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation's gift will be used to help create the Pediatric Dentistry Ambulatory Surgery Center, allowing the UIC College of Dentistry to serve 1,470 more patients annually. Construction is expected to be completed by the spring of 2019.
SIU School of Dentistry
In central and southern Illinois, the current estimated wait time for services for children with special dental care needs is 15 to 18 months. Local school districts have identified 23,550 children with special dental needs in 11 counties, including Bond, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Richland and St. Clair. All but one of these counties have been federal designated as health professional shortage areas for dental services.
“This gift will enable us to treat some of the most vulnerable patients in our state,” said Dr. Bruce E. Rotter, dean, SIU School of Dental Medicine. “The support of Delta Dental of Illinois and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation will help us more effectively manage the treatment of the hundreds of patients seen through the Special Dental Care Needs Program each year. With the new ambulatory center and this new ability to administer general anesthesia to treat pediatric patients with complex dental care needs, we will be able to significantly expand our overall capacity and provide better care to these children.”
Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation's gift will help fund construction of the SIU School of Dental Medicine Ambulatory Center, slated to be completed in 2021.
Learn more about the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation and how you can help us fulfill our mission to improve oral health in Illinois.