Penn Dental Medicine awarded $650,000 Delta Dental grant to expand community outreach
June 27, 2017
PHILADELPHIA — Penn Dental Medicine has been awarded a $650,000 grant from Delta Dental of Pennsylvania and its affiliates to expand the school’s community outreach efforts. The grant will support PennSmiles, the school’s long-standing oral health education and clinical care program for schoolchildren and their families in West and Southwest Philadelphia, providing funds for a new mobile dental vehicle as well as the operational costs for educational programs.
"PennSmiles is our flagship program in terms of bringing oral health education and dental care to schoolchildren and their families in the West and Southwest Philadelphia communities," said Dr. Joan Gluch, chief of the Division of Community Health. "Funding from Delta Dental of Pennsylvania will allow us to replace the 14-year-old existing PennSmiles bus with a modern, new dental bus, thus ensuring continuity in care for the schoolchildren we serve."
The school- and community-based oral health education component of PennSmiles launched in 2000 in partnership with the school district of Philadelphia, and since 2003, Penn Dental Medicine students and faculty have also been providing comprehensive dental care aboard the PennSmiles dental bus. Presently, the PennSmiles program works with 24 preschool, elementary, and middle public and charter schools in the neighborhoods within approximately 24 square miles of the University of Pennsylvania. In the current academic year, all predoctoral dental students participated in Penn's service-learning courses in community health, which include the PennSmiles education, preventive and dental care programs. The Penn service-learning courses allow dental students to gain practical experiences in community settings while providing much-needed oral health education and dental care.
"Delta Dental and PennSmiles have a shared goal of improving the oral health of Pennsylvania residents," said Kenneth Yale, DDS, chief clinical officer for Delta Dental. "We're pleased to help PennSmiles expand their community outreach with a new dental vehicle to help underrepresented communities become healthier."
The new PennSmiles dental vehicle will replace the existing bus, which will continue on a part-time basis, enabling the school to provide oral health education and clinical care to 5,000 children in the 2017-2018 academic year. Like the original, the new PennSmiles bus is designed as a 40-foot vehicle, featuring two dental operatories fully outfitted for comprehensive dental care, with electronic dental record and digital radiology capabilities.
The exterior design will mimic the original bus with its bright red cab and vibrant photography that has become a warm and welcome presence in West Philadelphia. "When residents see the PennSmiles bus, they see a tangible commitment from Penn Dental Medicine to improve the oral health of children in our community," said Dr. Gluch.
The new PennSmiles vehicle, being developed with Mobile Specialty Vehicles of Jasper, Texas, is expected to be completed for delivery in October 2017.View video on PennSmiles program >>
About Delta Dental of Pennsylvania
Delta Dental of Pennsylvania, Delta Dental Insurance Company, Delta Dental of New York, Inc., and Delta Dental of California, along with their affiliated companies, together provide dental benefits to nearly 36.5 million people in 15 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. All are part of the Delta Dental Plans Association, whose member companies collectively cover more than 73 million people nationwide.