Delta Dental plans to bring “Brighter Futures” to kids
OKEMOS, Mich., (August 20, 2012) — With a long-standing commitment to improving oral health in the areas it serves, Delta Dental of Michigan has begun one of its most extensive outreach efforts ever to help communities across Michigan.
On Friday, August 17, Delta Dental hosted “Smile Day” at Comerica Park for 750 children and parents, in addition to thousands of Detroit Tigers fans, and introduced its Brighter Futures initiative centering on kids, health and literacy. As part of its launch, the company donated tickets to the game to four charities including the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program, Think Detroit PAL, Avancemos! Educational Services, and Western Wayne Family Health Center.
“When Delta Dental offered us the tickets, we were thrilled,” said Erika Augenstein, RDH, BSDH and dental hygienist at Western Wayne Family Health Centers. “Through our partnership with the Michigan Department of Community Health, I’ve been administering sealants and varnish treatments to hundreds of children in the area. Many of these kids have never had the opportunity to enjoy a night at a Tigers game. It was a wonderful ‘bonus’ for them to receive after getting dental treatment at one of our free clinics recently.”
Delta Dental also showed its continued support of the MDCH during an on-field check presentation totaling $250,000. The grant will continue to help fund the organization’s two oral-health programs, SEAL! Michigan sealant program and the Michigan Water Fluoridation Project, as well as an oral health research component throughout next year.
“We are proud to support these MDCH programs because of their positive impact on the oral health of children and their families,” said Laura Czelada, CPA, president and CEO of Delta Dental. “The SEAL! Michigan program alone has provided preventive dental care to thousands of children across the state, helping them avoid tooth decay and stay healthier. We are also very pleased, through our Brighter Futures program, to extend our focus into other areas that will promote the well-being of children.”
Brighter Futures is an ongoing commitment the company is making to improve the oral and overall health of Michigan’s children. Yet, this initiative goes one step further and brings literacy into the picture. Other than just reaching out through dental clinics and health agencies, Brighter Futures is also going into the classroom.
“We want to look at every way possible to incorporate healthy oral-health habits into a child’s day-to-day routine,” said Czelada. “The fact that 51 million school hours are missed each year because of oral-health issues is unacceptable. We are dedicated to providing educators and parents with the resources they need to make sure children are healthy.”
The Brighter Futures project has several primary components for the next year including:
- A new school-adoption program with Blessings in a Backpack, a national organization dedicated to ensuring that elementary school children receive food on the weekends throughout the school year.
- A “Drool is Cool” video series focusing on important oral health and overall health-related topics that children and parents will find engaging and informative.
- A “Brighter Beginnings” program designed to introduce the topic of good oral health from birth through the elementary school years. The project addresses everything from prenatal dental care and finding a dental home by age 1 to sustaining good oral-health habits and maintaining healthy diets as children grow.
- A partnership with the National Education Association’s Read Across America which will bring quality children’s oral-health books and materials into schools and offer grants to support school media centers.
- A “Sink Your Teeth into a Good Book” program during National Reading Month, March 2013, emphasizing the importance of reading and oral health within the classroom.
- A public policy collaboration designed to engage state legislators in the creation and distribution of children’s oral-health backpacks for use by teachers in their classrooms and districts.
An initial $1 million investment has been allocated to the initiative for the next 12 months, which will support the partnerships and programs outlined above. Yet the company doesn’t see that as the end.
“The health and well-being of children is a priority at Delta Dental,” said Czelada. “Through our ongoing grants to oral health projects, and our new Brighter Futures initiative, our goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of as many children as possible.”
For more information about Delta Dental, Brighter Futures and event photos, visit
About Delta Dental of Michigan
Delta Dental of Michigan, with its affiliates in Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee collectively are among the largest dental plan administrators in the nation. In 2011, the enterprise paid out $2.2 billion for dental treatment for 8.6 million enrollees. Offices are located in Okemos and Farmington Hills, Mich.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; and Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn.