Thousands of at-risk children, seniors, and developmentally disabled individuals will have access to dental care in 2013, as a result of $700,000 in grants awarded to 28 community organizations and programs in New Jersey and Connecticut by the Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation. The Foundation is the charitable arm of Delta Dental of New Jersey.

A goal of the grants is to reduce the number of complex and urgent dental work resulting from the lack of preventive care, catching problems earlier to reduce complications later. The funds are designed to help the uninsured and underserved, specifically children whose families are at or below the federal poverty level, the developmentally disabled, and vulnerable seniors.

At-risk populations face the greatest barriers to dental care access, making them statistically in most need of preventive and urgent care and financial assistance for it. The organizations that the Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation is funding this year include health departments, colleges and universities, hospitals, health centers, mobile dental units, school-based dental clinics, and other groups. Funds will be used to buy new equipment, establish new dental services and expand existing programs, increase mobile service access, create and expand dental education, extend hours and staff, and more.

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Grants were awarded to organizations in New Jersey and Connecticut. Following is a listing organized by state and county.

New Jersey 

Dental Lifeline Network, Statewide: Provide free, comprehensive dental care to aged, disabled or medically-at-risk New Jersey residents who cannot afford or otherwise access treatment for serious dental problems.

CAMDEN COUNTY

Cathedral Kitchen, Camden (Camden County):  Provide free, critical dental care through its Project Smiles Dental Clinic for people recruited from “soup kitchen” dinner guests who have no insurance or access to dental services and are at or below the poverty level.

CUMBERLAND/GLOUCESTER/SALEM COUNTIES

Tri-County Head Start Community Action Agency, T/A Gateway Community Action Partnership, Bridgeton (Cumberland County): Continue the Community Connections for Bright Smiles program, which covers the cost of oral exams, preventive care, and education for low-income children and families in Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland Counties.

ESSEX COUNTY

Boys & Girls Club of Newark, Newark (Essex County): Provide support for the Children’s Dental Center, a free dental clinic at the Central Ward Clubhouse, with the goal to increase rates of annual dental checkups while reducing the rate of tooth decay, gum pain, and poor health among children and teenagers who are members of the Boys & Girls Club.

East Orange Department of Health & Human Services, East Orange (Essex County): Sustain ongoing dental education and services, specifically fluoride treatments and sealants, to uninsured school-age children who reside and attend school in East Orange and whose low-income families are unable to pay for dental needs.

Kids Corporation II, Newark (Essex County): Provide free dental exams, education, and follow-up dental care to approximately 700 students from Newark, as part of the Kids Camp Health Clinic. Kids Camp offers environmental science education and leadership development programs during the summer and after school, and provides medical, vision, and dental exams to children in need.

KinderSmile Foundation, Upper Montclair (Essex and Union Counties): Work with Head Start programs in providing age-appropriate preventive care, and a link with dental homes, for underserved children including those with special needs, as well as training for staff, children, and parents, to promote good oral hygiene and reduce decay and gingivitis. This program serves families who are 150 percent below the federal poverty level.

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Newark (Essex County): The program, A Maternal Dental Home in an Urban Setting, stresses the importance of good oral health care during pregnancy. This patient base rarely seeks dental care. Capturing this audience is a way to establish the role of oral hygiene within the family structure prior to the birth of the children. Regular follow-up and pediatric care will both be encouraged.

Youth Consultation Services (YCS), Newark (Essex County): Tending to the physical and mental health needs of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled is the focus of YCS. The dental care program will be administered at an ambulatory care clinic for children through age 21 at the site of one of the YCS offices in East Orange, N.J.

HUDSON COUNTY

Hudson County Dental Society, Union City (Hudson County): Provided free dental care to hundreds of underserved children by dozens of volunteer dentists, as part of the Give Kids a Smile Day program.

MIDDLESEX COUNTY

JFK Medical Center/Community Hospital Group, Edison (Middlesex County):
Improve quality of life for low-income seniors who are suffering from untreated tooth decay and have gone without dental care for years. Continue to provide affordable dental care, as well as offer more complex specialty services such as implants, to many dozens of uninsured and underserved patients in Central New Jersey.

MONMOUTH COUNTY

Jersey Shore University Medical Center Dental Clinic, Neptune (Monmouth County): Remove dozens of seniors, primarily in Asbury Park and Neptune, from the new-appointment four-year waiting list and provide them with removable upper and lower dentures at the only charity care dental clinic in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

MORRIS COUNTY

Morristown Medical Center, Dental Program for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, Morristown (Morris County): Continue to support its Leonard Szerlip Dental Center, the only place in Morris County where pediatric, economically disadvantaged, and developmentally disabled populations can get access to dental services at no cost. Pediatric residents will also be trained in pediatric dental development and how to apply fluoride varnish.

Morristown Medical Center, Senior Smiles Program, Morristown (Morris County): Fund the supplies, materials, and lab fees that allow comprehensive, no-cost dental services for the area’s charity care geriatric patients, many of whom have no source of income other than Social Security.

Zufall Health Center, Dover (Morris County): Support and expand Zufall’s pediatric dental program for underserved children including facilitating the integration of dental screening and preventive services with existing pediatric medical services.

OCEAN COUNTY

Ocean Health Initiatives, Lakewood (Ocean County): Hire a dental hygienist for community outreach and screening of children through age 17 for dental services as needed at OHI’s two clinic sites in Toms River and Lakewood, and the new satellite site at the Clifton Avenue Elementary School in Lakewood, N.J. These “pediatric friendly” dental clinics ease exams and procedures for a segment of OHI’s 5,283 primarily low-income pediatric patients.

PASSAIC COUNTY

Clifton Health Department, Clifton (Passaic County): Support increased enrollment of low-income school-age children from underserved, underinsured families in Clifton in need of free or low-cost dental services, and expand services to include underserved, underinsured families in Little Falls.

Eva's Village, Paterson (Passaic County): Provide free dental care to the area’s homeless, recovering addicts, uninsured, underinsured, and working poor, many of whom have not seen a dentist in 20 years.

Paterson Public Schools Dental Clinic, Paterson (Passaic County): Support dental care to allow uninsured children in the Paterson school district to continue receiving dental treatment in a friendly environment with no fee to the families.

SOMERSET COUNTY

Matheny Medical and Educational Center, Peapack (Somerset County): Provide specialized dental services and preventive care to children and adults with complex developmental disabilities, a vulnerable and underserved population that has difficulty obtaining these services. For more information about Matheny, view the video on the Matheny dental program.

UNION COUNTY

KinderSmile Foundation, Upper Montclair (Essex and Union Counties): See listing under Essex County.

Millions of Dollars Donated 

The Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation’s annual grant program is part of a deep and widespread commitment to the underserved by Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA). DDPA encompasses 39 member companies in all 50 states, including Delta Dental of New Jersey. In 2011, DDPA collectively donated more than $88 million throughout the country to support dental-focused programs for the underserved.

Since 1986, the Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation has awarded more than $13.7 million  to non-profit organizations who aid New Jersey’s and Connecticut’s uninsured and underinsured with access to care as well as oral health education. 

About Delta Dental
Delta Dental of New Jersey Inc. is New Jersey’s leading dental benefits company, providing or administering coverage to more than 1.5 million people through contracts with employers in New Jersey and Connecticut. The Delta Dental system offers seamless dental benefits administration for employer groups throughout the country and has the largest network of dentists in the nation. For more information, visit www.deltadentalnj.com.

About the Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation

Delta Dental established the Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation in 1986. Its mission includes promoting and assisting educational projects devoted to the enhancement of dental health, providing research programs designed to increase public awareness of the general benefits of good oral health, and improving dental health through the science of dentistry. Each year, Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation provides financial support to various organizations throughout the state.