UDM, Delta Dental Foundation announce new “mobile dental coach” for Wayne County children

Delta Dental gifts $584,907 to expand care to eligible children

Dental care will literally travel to thousands of underserved Wayne County children starting this fall thanks to a new University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) School of Dentistry “mobile dental coach” announced on Monday, June 15 and funded by the Delta Dental Foundation.

UDM, Delta Dental, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, City of Detroit and Wayne County school and elected leaders announced the mobile dental coach on “Dental Day” at Noble Elementary-Middle School in Detroit. About 400 pre-K to fourth-grade students attended the event and received oral health education from UDM dental and dental hygiene students at a variety of stations set up in the school as well as oral health “goodies” provided by Delta Dental.

The mobile coach and four portable dental chairs were funded by two Delta Dental Foundation grants to UDM totaling $584,907. Under the new UDM “School-Based Dental Services Program,” dental students and faculty will travel to schools across Wayne County providing comprehensive diagnostic, preventive and restorative treatment to thousands of children.

UDM officials said the new program and mobile coach will be operational by late August. Farber Specialty Vehicles in Ohio is building the mobile coach, with delivery expected in late July. In the meantime, UDM is working with county health and school officials to develop the list of schools to visit starting this fall, the first of which will be Noble Elementary-Middle School.

“Not only will this mobile unit provide a unique experience for University of Detroit Mercy health professionals and improve their confidence and competence, but it also will address the access-to-care issue in the city of Detroit by facilitating dental treatment to a population that likely would not otherwise receive it,” said Mert N. Aksu, DDS, JD, MHSA, Dean, University of Detroit Mercy. “We are extremely appreciative of Delta Dental Foundation’s extremely generous gift.”

As part of its Brighter Futures initiative, one of the Delta Dental Foundation’s top priorities is to expand access to regular dental care for all Michigan children.

“Every child in Michigan needs and deserves access to high quality, regular dental care,” said Teri Battaglieri, Delta Dental Foundation director. “Nationwide, children miss 51 million hours of school a year due to oral health problems, and three of every five children are affected by tooth decay. At the Delta Dental Foundation, we are committed to doing our part to ensure that every child shows up for school every day healthy, pain-free and ready to learn.”

Delta Dental is working with Gov. Rick Snyder, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Legislature to establish the state’s Healthy Kids Dental (HKD) program in all 83 Michigan counties. HKD is a Medicaid program administered by Delta Dental that improves access to dental care for the state’s underserved children. Wayne, Oakland and Kent counties are the final three Michigan counties lacking HKD — though the FY 2016 state budget awaiting Gov. Snyder’s signature would expand HKD to children enrolled in Medicaid up to age 12 in those three counties.

The UDM School-Based Dental Services Program is expected to record 1,600 patient visits during the 2015-2016 academic year using the mobile coach and the four portable dental chairs funded by the Delta Dental Foundation. Services offered to children include dental exams, cleanings, X-rays, sealants, restorative care, extractions, mouth guards, referrals, oral health education and emergency services.

“This particular mobile dental coach is unique from others because its primary purpose is to provide comprehensive oral health care,” said Aksu. “This is not just about treating diseases. It’s about preventive services and education that will prepare children to become healthier adults.”

School officials who attended the announcement thanked UDM and Delta Dental, and said the program will benefit students across Detroit and Wayne County.

“We can’t thank the University of Detroit Mercy and the Delta Dental Foundation enough for their support of our students,” said Superintendent of Academics Karen Ridgeway. “Having such wonderful partners to provide critical wrap-around services such as dental care allows us to focus on the child as a whole and address all of their needs in order to remove any potential barriers to academic success.”

The Delta Dental Foundation launched its Brighter Futures initiative in 2012 to improve the oral health and well-being of children and adults through advocacy, education and philanthropy. In 2014, the foundation invested more than $3.56 million to support programs, organizations and events dedicated to advancing this goal. The foundation also committed $2.2 million in multi-year grants.

About Delta Dental Foundation
The Delta Dental Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization established in 1980, which serves as the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina. The Foundation’s goals are to support education and research for the advancement of dental science and to promote the oral health of the public through education and service activities, particularly for those with special needs. For more information, visit http://www.deltadentalmi.com/About/Giving-Back/Delta-Dental-Foundation.aspx. 

About University of Detroit Mercy
University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) is Michigan’s largest, private Catholic University with more than 100 academic majors and programs. Sponsored by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the Sisters of Mercy, the University has campuses in downtown and northwest Detroit. UDM is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities and the largest of 17 Mercy institutions of higher education in the United States. For the 14th consecutive year, UDM is listed in the top tier of Midwest universities in the 2015 edition of the U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges.” UDM was also named one of Money Magazine’s “Best Colleges,” based on graduation rates, degree cost and return on investment.

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