DentaQuest Broker Update
(02/03/2010)

DentaQuest Foundation awards two grants to aid oral health in Maryland
By IFAwebnews Staff

The charitable arm of dental benefits provider DentaQuest has awarded more than $534,000 in grant funding for an oral health literacy and awareness campaign in Maryland.

The DentaQuest Foundation recently awarded grants of $331,343 to the University of Maryland and $202,886 to the new Maryland Dental Action Coalition (MDAC) for the program. Researchers at the university’s School of Public Health will survey 4,000 parents and health care providers on preventative oral health and use that data for develop an oral health literacy intervention model for Maryland and other states, according to the company.

The grant funding will also help establish the MDAC, an independent advocacy organization to implement the oral health literacy program throughout the state. The new group will work with policymakers, health care providers, educators and others to prioritize oral health as a critical component of health and promote community and statewide solutions.

Ralph Fuccillo, president of the DentaQuest Foundation, applauded Maryland’s steps to address gaps in access and said he feels the grants can further Maryland’s leadership as a national model for oral health awareness and fighting disparities.

“Progress in addressing oral health disparities requires the support and engagement of the entire community,” he said in a statement. “Equipped with effective tools and knowledge, community leaders, parents, health care providers, educators and the general public can more easily tackle oral health problems.”

According to a 2007 survey by the Maryland Family Health Administration, more than one-third of Maryland students in kindergarten and third grade had untreated decay in their primary teeth while more than 70% of children in the state’s Medicaid program, had never seen a dentist.

Dr. Harry Goodman, director of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Oral Health, said no organization in the state coordinates an evidence-based oral health literacy program focusing on reducing disparities.

“With these grants, the DentaQuest Foundation has really stepped up at a time when we know there’s a problem, and there’s tremendous willingness to do something about it, but the public resources simply aren’t available,” Goodman said.