Funding to help improve oral health in Valley

VALLEY — On Wednesday, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation (DDCOF) announced that it will provide $3.4 million in funding over three years to 29 Colorado nonprofit organizations to support projects designed to advance oral health equity in local communities.

This includes a grant to Valley-Wide Health Systems to hire a dental outreach coordinator to provide oral health education to Women, Infants & Children (WIC) and Nurse Family Partnership clients and direct them to available dental care. Services will be provided in Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache counties.

Chaffee Oral Health Program (Salida) also received funding to reach children and pregnant women living in Chaffee, Fremont, Lake and Saguche counties through oral health screenings, care coordination and education on the value of fluoridated water.

Social determinants – such as race and ethnicity, income, geography and age –  impact Coloradans’ oral health and their ability to access regular dental care. The DDCOF grantees were selected because they serve populations that have been historically overlooked and experience significant oral health disparities. They also demonstrated proven or innovative solutions to overcome barriers to accessing oral health care or preventing tooth decay, two of the foundation’s strategic focus areas. Of the 29 grantees, 14 are located in urban areas of Colorado, 11 in rural areas and four provide services statewide.

“Our inaugural open funding created an opportunity for organizations to share what they needed to improve health in their communities. The 62 applications submitted revealed a significant need for dedicated oral health funding statewide,” said Allison Cusick, executive director of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. “According to the Colorado Health Institute, just 63 percent of low-income Coloradans report good physical and oral health. Thousands of Coloradans live in dental health professional shortage areas. Disparities like these result in oral health inequities. By funding innovative projects designed to improve community oral health, we will better understand what Coloradans need to be healthy and help achieve the foundation’s mission of advancing oral health equity.”

For more than 20 years, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation (DDCOF) has been working to make good dental health a community priority. To learn more, visit