Sun Life partners with Delta Dental of Arizona to serve low-income children

Deborah Kelly administers a dental screening at Sun Life Family Health Center as part of Henry Schein’s Healthy Lifestyles, Healthy Communities program. (Sun Life)

Children living in poverty do not visit the dentist as regularly or as early on in life as children living in higher income families and therefore are at higher risk for dental disease.

To help combat this, Sun Life Family Health Center’s Community Dental Program has received a $20,000 grant from Delta Dental of Arizona to provide oral health services to children at 26 elementary schools in eight Pinal County school districts – Casa Grande, Coolidge, Eloy, Florence, Maricopa, Oracle, Picacho and Stanfield, according to a release.

Approximately 91% of children participating in the Oral Health Screening Project are uninsured or underinsured, according to the release.

Pinal County is a predominantly rural county, in which approximately 13% of the population lives below the poverty level, the release states.

In addition to receiving oral hygiene instruction, dental screenings and fluoride varnish, every child who participates in the program will be given an oral health kit containing a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. Children in need of additional dental services will be provided with a list of dentists, including those practicing at Sun Life’s pediatric dental facility in Casa Grande, the release states.

“This grant allows us to introduce good oral health habits to so many children who otherwise would probably go without any type of dental treatment,” Sun Life Family Health Center’s Chief Executive Officer Travis Robinette said in the release. “Sun Life’s Oral Health Screening Project has served more than 10,000 children in the past three years with funding received from Delta Dental of Arizona.”

The staff for the Oral Health Screening Project include a registered dental hygienist and a dental assistant responsible for delivering preventive oral health services to students through a portable dental clinic set up in a classroom or other space available at each school, according to the release.

“Statistics show tooth decay in children and adolescents is twice as high for underserved families than those from higher incomes due to lack of education about the importance of oral hygiene,” Allan Allford, chief executive officer at Delta Dental of Arizona, said in the release. “We also know access to vital health and dental services is challenging in rural communities, which is why we are proud longtime partners of Sun Life Family Health Center. We are excited to support their Oral Health Screening Project to help improve oral health in this community.”

Sun Life Family Health Center serves both insured and uninsured Pinal County patients, and provides health services in family practice, dentistry, women’s health, pediatrics, diabetes education, and much more.  Sun Life has several area family practice offices in Apache Junction, Casa Grande, Coolidge, Eloy, Maricopa, Oracle and San Manuel. Go to SunLifeFamilyHealth.org. 

Founded in 1997, the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation is the charitable arm of Delta Dental of Arizona, the dental benefits company. Go to deltadentalaz.com/foundation.

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