The Delta Dental Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of North Carolina, Friday held a virtual event to award $85,000 for oral health initiatives serving NC communities. The event, which commemorated the 10th anniversary of Smiles for Kids, a grant program that funds oral health education and services across North Carolina, featured remarks from CDC Foundation Chair & UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Professor Dr. Leah Devlin, DDS.
“These Smiles for Kids grants are critically important in catalyzing partnerships, bringing additional resources to the table, and providing innovative approaches to improve oral health in North Carolina,” said Leah Devlin, CDC Foundation Chair & UNC Gillings School of Public Health Professor. “As a society, we don’t always realize that oral health is a part of total body health. The Smiles for Kids grants advance oral health care delivery and education to underserved children across the state, including urban and rural communities.”
Curt Ladig, President and CEO, initiated the program when he joined DDNC in 2010. Since then, DDF has invested more than $510,000 through the program, which has touched the lives of more than 330,000 underserved children and families in the state.
“When I joined Delta Dental of North Carolina 10 years ago, I learned that 37 percent of the children entering kindergarten have tooth decay, causing them to miss critical class instruction time,” said Mr. Ladig. “This was unacceptable. Today, I am thrilled to celebrate 10 years of Smiles for Kids because of the positive impact that it’s had on so many children across the state. Because at Delta Dental, we believe that everyone deserves a healthy smile.”
Goshen Medical Center will use the funds to provide much-needed dental screenings to Head Start school age children in the Wayne and Duplin County areas. Each child receives a screening from a dentist, an oral evaluation, and a bag of dental care items to take home.