Delta Dental funds Minn. oral health study

The Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation has awarded $300,000 to the state health department to create a data system that will provide information about oral health trends.

The Minnesota Oral Health Surveillance System will help public health workers and private providers deliver oral care to the public, Delta Dental noted in a press release.

The state health department reported in February that more than half of the state's third-graders have caries, and inadequate dental care has significant long-term health and cost consequences for the state.

The $300,000 grant will be used to create a consolidated data source that contains a myriad of oral health indicators for the public, health leaders, and decision-makers. The system will give Minnesota's oral health community the capacity to make strategic decisions based on data, monitor the state's progress in meeting its oral health goals, and use data to improve access to oral care.

The system will support a geographic mapping technology to identify existing and potential "dental deserts" -- areas that have shortages of dental providers and/or low utilization of the dental care system.

More data is needed about dental caries among toddlers and adolescents, people living in elder care facilities, migrant and native populations, school-based sealant coverage, and the oral health of pregnant women.

The Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation was formed out of the proceeds of the 2009 sale of the dental benefits management company, DeCare Dental. In 2012, the foundation had assets of approximately $92 million and granted about $2 million.

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