Supporting Innovation in Oral Health

Delta Dental of Colorado Innovation Grants

Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation is tapping into Colorado’s long, proud tradition of entrepreneurship and invention by offering grants of up to $50,000 to improve the oral health of the state.

The Delta Dental of Colorado Innovation Grants program offers up to $200,000 total in funding to Colorado-based organizations and individuals to develop and test the best, most cutting-edge ideas and approaches to improve oral health in Colorado.

Recipients of the 2016 grants will be announced in fall 2016. To learn about the winners and learn more about the program, visit

For more than 55 years, Delta Dental of Colorado, a nonprofit dental benefits provider, has supported innovation in oral health to help advance our mission to improve the oral health of the communities we serve. Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation carries the company’s mission forward and focuses on eradicating childhood tooth decay in Colorado.

From innovative dental plan designs for small businesses to first-in-the-country models for delivering preventive dental care to bridging medical and dental education, we are working with partners to constantly push the envelope and test new approaches to improve oral health.

Ongoing efforts include:

Colorado Medical-Dental Integration

Oral health is a critical component of one’s overall health, and yet thousands of Coloradans have limited or no access to oral health care. According to the Colorado Health Institute, only one-third of practicing dentists treated Medicaid patients in 2013-14, and 5 percent of those dentists treated nearly half the clients.

To help close the oral health care gap, the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation launched the Colorado Medical-Dental Integration Program (CO MDI), a first-of-its-kind program that integrates preventive dental services into medical facilities. The foundation funded 16 medical organizations to hire registered dental hygienists to provide the full scope of preventive oral health services as an integrated part of medical care teams. Hygienists refer patients to nearby dentists, and some locations have a dentist on site.

In less than two years, the program has provided more than 12,000 visits to Coloradans. More than 70 percent of those served are insured by Medicaid.

Frontier Center 4 Health

A growing body of research points to significant links between oral health and systemic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. This reinforces the importance of inter-professional education between medical and dental students.

The Frontier Center 4 Health at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine was established by a grant from the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. It is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of oral health and the connections between oral health and overall health by encouraging interactions between health professional students.

Since 2005, the Frontier Center has provided hands on inter-professional learning opportunities for more than 3,500 medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing and other health profession students, residents and practitioners.

By creating opportunities for students to observe and participate in new models of care delivery, the Frontier Center is preparing our future health care professional workforce to deliver highly coordinated care that considers a patient’s oral and overall health.

CU Heroes Clinic

Many veterans do not qualify for or receive coverage for dental care when they leave military service. The University of Colorado (CU) School of Dental Medicine Heroes Clinic addresses this gap by ensuring that veteran students receive quality dental care at no cost, allowing them to focus on their education.

Funded by a generous grant from Delta Dental of Colorado, the CU Heroes Clinic provides a wide variety of preventive and comprehensive dental care to military veterans enrolled in a full-time academic program at participating Colorado universities and colleges.

“These student veterans have given so much to our country that they truly are heroes who are deserving of a Heroes Clinic established specifically for them,” said Kate Paul, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado.

Since opening in 2014, the CU Heroes Clinic has supported more than 1,000 patient visits by student veterans.

Barbara Springer, executive director of the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation.

This was originally published in the fall issue of Business Altitude. Click here to read the full issue.