Fourth quarter | 2022

Newsletter highlights

Milken Institute Future of Health Summit: On December 7, Wells Hutchison, President & CEO, Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA), was joined on stage by prominent health care industry leaders to discuss the importance of oral health to overall health during the Milken Institute’s Future of Health Summit held in Washington, D.C.

New research study: In October, the Delta Dental Institute (DDI) sponsored new public opinion research, which found that U.S. adults were more likely to report that concerns about inflation, rather than concerns about COVID-19, prompted them to delay oral health care. 

A note from the Executive Director

As we reflect on 2022, we take stock of and celebrate the results of our collaborations, including oral health research spotlighted at a national health forum, meaningful progress serving the most vulnerable populations in our communities, and effective advocacy that drives toward greater health equity. We advance our mission by working together and acknowledge and appreciate the many wonderful partners that help us bring healthy smiles to all. We at DDI wish you a wonderful holiday season, and may the new year bring you and your loved ones good health and happiness!


New data: Nearly half of U.S. adults cite inflation among top concerns for delaying or canceling dental cleanings

In October, DDI sponsored new public opinion research which found that U.S. adults were more likely to report that concerns about inflation, rather than concerns about COVID-19, prompted them to delay oral health care. 

Ninety-five percent of U.S. adults said oral health is essential to overall health and 6 in 10 said they would continue to receive routine dental care to avoid major health care costs down the line, even if money were tight. Almost half, however, reported they have delayed or canceled a dental cleaning. Inflation was cited as the top reason for delaying care.

Additionally, dental coverage in Medicare and Medicaid has broad bipartisan support. Eighty-five percent of adults want Medicare to include dental care, and 76% want Medicaid to require states to include dental coverage. There is strong support among both Republicans and Democrats for federally-sponsored oral health care — support that remains even after respondents are informed that providers may choose not to accept it. 

Read the report

Research from the Delta Dental Institute featured at the 2022 American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting

DDI was proud to have two of our research partners featured and present their findings at the 2022 APHA Annual Meeting.

  • Dr. Tamanna Tiwari, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, presented a review of insights from medical-dental integration models over the past decade.
  • Dr. Sung Eun Choi, Instructor in Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, presented on the importance of ensuring a greater supply of dental providers to reduce disparities in oral health.

To stay up to date with DDI’s latest research and findings, visit deltadentalinstitute.com/research


Delta Dental of Arizona: Improving access to oral health care

Delta Dental of Arizona partnered with HonorHealth and Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) to improve access to oral health care. Uninsured patients who visit any of the five HonorHealth emergency rooms with dental issues are triaged, then directed to case workers to make appointments at NOAH Dental Clinics for treatment. In addition, transportation is arranged if needed, and patients are provided up to $1,500 in emergency dental services.

Learn more

Delta Dental of Michigan: Expanding access to mobile dental care

Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana partnered with Ford Motor Company and Kare Mobile to uplift minority businesses and bring mobile oral health care services to residents in southwest Detroit through the Motor City Kares initiative. Two minority-led Michigan dental practices received a custom mobile dental clinic and the opportunity to participate in a business boot camp offered by Lightship Foundation. Watch the program video here.

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Delta Dental of New Jersey and Connecticut: Supporting veterans with routine dental care

Delta Dental of New Jersey and Connecticut supported the University of Connecticut Foundation’s Open Wide for Veterans Day by providing a $10,000 SMILE Mini Grant to the Share the Care Fund. Many veterans cannot afford routine dental care, which can negatively impact both their oral and overall health. Delta Dental of New Jersey’s support covered dental treatment costs for more than 110 veterans.

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Delta Dental takes the stage at the Milken Institute Future of Health Summit

On December 7, Wells Hutchison, President & CEO, DDPA, was joined on stage by prominent health care industry leaders to discuss the importance of oral health to overall health during the Milken Institute’s Future of Health Summit, held in Washington, D.C. The panel was moderated by Nicholas St. Fleur, Reporter and Associate Editorial Director of Events at STAT, and featured Dr. Gillian Barclay, Vice President, Global Public Health and Head of Bright Smiles, Bright Futures Program, Colgate-Palmolive; Arturo Brito, President and CEO, Children’s Health Fund; Natalia Chalmers, Chief Dental Officer, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, US Department of Health and Human Services; and Mr. Hutchison. Together, they discussed innovative ways to improve the state of oral health in America and how doing so advances health equity. Key focal points of the conversation included:

  • The importance of routine oral health care, which is associated with improved overall physical and mental health
  • Oral health’s connection to overall health, including medical conditions such as heart disease, dementia, and diabetes
  • And social determinants of health and their impact on chronic disease management 

Learn more about the event and watch a recording of the panel here. The Delta Dental Institute is proud to serve as a Milken Institute partner. 

Delta Dental debuts at the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) National Conference

Delta Dental made its first appearance at the AISES National Conference held in Palm Springs, California, from October 6-8 to elevate the importance of oral health in overall health.

Founded in 1977, AISES is a national nonprofit organization focused on increasing the representation of Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies and careers. The conference is the premier event for Indigenous STEM professionals and students and focuses on educational, professional, and workforce development.

Delta Dental exhibited at the College and Career Fair, discussing with Native students the importance of oral health and the oral health professional’s role in overall community health. Dental professionals from across the Delta Dental system were present to talk about oral health education and to answer questions about careers in dentistry and oral hygiene.

Dr. Teri Barichello, Vice President and Chief Dental Officer, Delta Dental of Oregon, delivered a presentation focusing on creating pathways for more Native American representation in the oral health professional workforce and increasing oral health literacy.

Delta Dental was honored to attend and extends its deepest gratitude to the incredible AISES community for allowing us to be a part of this successful conference.

Learn more

Addressing access and equity in Washington state: Lessons learned in Seattle

A roundtable discussion with Axios

In October, DDI concluded its 2022 Expert Voices roundtable discussion series in Seattle, Washington, featuring local health care leaders, policymakers, and medical experts. Guests offered their perspectives on combating barriers to health care access and proposed solutions for bridging equity gaps.

In partnership with Delta Dental of Washington and Axios, DDI was honored to have Nicole Marci, Washington State Representative; Ingrid Ulrey, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regional Director; and Sue Birch, Director of the Washington State Health Care Authority, in attendance.

Key themes from the conversation:

  • Washington state officials spoke about preparing for the end of the pandemic-era public health emergency and ensuring the people of Washington are able to remain insured and receive health care coverage when it ends.
  • Attendees expressed the importance of partnerships between government, community-based organizations, and local health jurisdictions that focus on health access and equity.
Learn more

New podcast 🎙️

In November, Wells Hutchison, President & CEO, DDPA, was the featured guest on AHIP’s “Next Big Thing In Health” podcast. The co-hosts, AHIP President and CEO Matt Eyles and journalist Laura Evans, focused on the state of America’s oral health and invited Hutchison to share his insights and discuss Delta Dental’s efforts to create greater health equity. The podcast can be accessed here

The future of diversity, equity, and inclusion in dentistry

DDI recently interviewed Dr. Eleanor Fleming, CDC-trained dental epidemiologist (disease detective) and board-certified public health dentist, about the future of DEI in oral health. 

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Milken Power of Ideas: Reframing whole person health and wellness

DDPA President & CEO, Wells Hutchison, shares his perspective on the importance of thinking more comprehensively about whole person health and highlights how Delta Dental is driving this change.

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Local dentist provides training to support Dentist By 1™ program

Following the conclusion of a Dentist By 1 training event in September, Delta Dental of Illinois participated in a Q&A session with Dr. Lance Lambert, a Delta Dental network pediatric dentist. 

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Featured statistic

New research shows oral health remains a priority for U.S. adults

Almost 6 in 10 adults would continue to receive routine dental care to avoid major health care costs down the line, even if money were tight.

Learn more

Source: Delta Dental Institute Fall Research Study, 2022 

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