Bulletin of Dental Education

Delta Dental Grant Supports IU Sealant Program for Underserved Children

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Submitted by the Indiana University School of Dentistry

The Delta Dental Foundation has given the Indiana University (IU) School of Dentistry a $50,000 grant to operate the university’s Seal Indiana mobile program. The initiative brings vital preventative dental care to Indiana children in key underserved areas while enabling dental students to help alleviate disparities in access to healthcare. Gifts from the foundation to the school now total $250,000.

Seal Indiana works with Indiana Dental Association members and the Indiana State Department of Health to locate rural and urban children from low-income families and perform preventative services on site with portable dental equipment. The program targets low-income, school-aged children experiencing barriers in accessing preventative dental services. Oral examinations, sealant application, and fluoride varnishes are provided to the children by senior students within the School of Dentistry, working under the direction of licensed dental faculty.

“We are dedicated to supporting this program, which provides critical oral healthcare to thousands of children,” said Ms. Nancy Hostetler, Senior Vice President for the Delta Dental Foundation. “These are kids who are often in pain or suffering from tooth decay and infection due to a severe lack in dental hygiene simply because they can’t afford preventative oral healthcare.”

From the program’s inception in March 2003 to the end of September this year, Seal Indiana has served more than 23,000 children within the state at more than 1,100 sites, including Title I (lowest income) schools, Head Start and youth programs, community health centers, and city shelters for homeless mothers and children. The dental team has provided 17,000 fluoride varnish treatments and placed 33,000 sealants on permanent teeth.

The Delta Dental Foundation has assisted Seal Indiana over the last four years, specifically with grants earmarked for clinical services for children without insurance whose families could not otherwise provide dental care. Foundation grants have made it possible for IU to provide services to youngsters in a third of Indiana’s 92 counties.

“Delta Dental Foundation has been a longtime friend and supporter,” said Dr. Karen M. Yoder, Director of Civic Engagement and Oral Health Policy at IU. “Their help has enabled Seal Indiana to identify underprivileged children who need dental care and to join hands with the Indiana Dental Association to find local dentists to provide those services, often at little or no cost to the families most in need.”

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