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Howard University College of Dentistry Joins Delta Dental Community Care Foundation, Mary’s Center to Address Senior Oral Health Care Crisis

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WASHINGTON – The Howard University College of Dentistry has partnered with Mary’s Center and the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation to address the oral health care crisis among older adults in the United States.

The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of California, today announced it is launching a multi-year program to fund community-based coalitions around the country to tackle the problem. The Howard University College of Dentistry and Mary's Center  are the first two coalition partners in the program.

A recent report by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cited adults aged 65 years and older as the most critically underserved and vulnerable population for oral health care in America. The foundation’s program is intended to promote the connection between oral health and overall health, provide quality outcomes, improve access and create greater equity in the care and treatment older adults receive.  

“For more than 10 years, the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation has supported the College of Dentistry and our programs of improving access to care to the underserved,” said Andrea D. Jackson, DDS, dean of the Howard University College of Dentistry. “This generous philanthropic contribution addresses the critical issue in providing oral health care to our senior population. We are excited to partner with the foundation and Mary’s Center to collectively focus on reaching the underserved senior patients and providing a much-needed service to improve their oral health and overall health.”

Howard University’s College Dentistry is the fifth oldest dental school in the United States and graduates approximately 75 students each year. The college also serves as a research institution that prides itself on being a national resource for dental leaders.

Howard University College of Dentistry has previously collaborated to address the health needs of communities of color and drive broader systemic change. As a partner, the college will collect data on patient pathology, treatment, barriers to access and social determinants of health. The information will be utilized to identify effective interventions and inform the Delta Dental Senior Oral Health Care Model, which will be replicated as the program develops. The foundation will expand the program to other communities and partnerships over the next three to five years.

“Through Delta Dental’s decades of experience in the oral health care sector, we know that the unmet oral health needs of older adults represent a public health crisis and a serious gap in America’s health ecosystem,” said Kenzie Ferguson, vice president of foundation and corporate social responsibility for Delta Dental of California. “Through this program, the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation and its partners are focused on providing support for the most vulnerable group of seniors – those living in poverty, people of color and those whose mobility issues keep them from receiving oral health care.”

The program’s broader goals include identifying, assessing and addressing the socioeconomic and systemic causes of poor oral health among older adults, particularly those living in poverty; creating a replicable model for community-driven oral health solutions; and improving quality of life for seniors by reducing oral care disparities. In addition to Howard University College of Dentistry and Mary’s Center, the foundation will select and work with partners who are actively assisting historically underserved communities and transforming systems to improve oral health outcomes.

“We are excited to embark on this partnership to address the critical oral health disparities among our older adult community members with the support and generosity of the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation,” said Dr. Tollie B. Elliott, Sr., chief executive officer of Mary’s Center. “Dental services are a core component of Mary’s Center’s holistic, multipronged approach to care. Every day, we see how oral health directly affects overall health and quality of life, and we are determined to close the gaps of essential dental care among our most underserved and under-resourced populations.”

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.

Media contact: Sholnn Freeman; sholnn.freeman@howard.edu