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May 17, 2018

Northeast Delta Dental boosts its support of SmilePartners initiative

About SmilePartners

SmilePartners began in 2013 as a work group of the Greater Portland Refugee and Immigrant Health Collaborative. Preventive dental care was identified as a high-priority issue among New Mainers, and a pilot program was funded by the DentaQuest Foundation, Northeast Delta Dental Foundation, and Maine Health Access Foundation. SmilePartners matches funds saved by program participants while helping them navigate the dental health system. With great results from the initial pilot, the original investors have now been joined by the Cumberland District Public Health Council, which supported the SmilePartners initiative as part of its Oral Health priority with funds from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Northeast Delta Dental is contributing an additional $15,000 to the SmilePartners collaboration overseen by the University of Southern Maine that is removing barriers for people with limited means to access high-quality comprehensive dental health care.

The new funding by Northeast Delta Dental raises its total support for the initiative to $47,000.

In a news release announcing the additional funding, USM said the money will help multiple community organizations assist people establish preventive dental care who might otherwise be deterred by costs they feel are unaffordable.

USM coordinates the collaborative initiative that includes Maine Access Immigrant Network, Community Financial Literacy, Community Dental, City of Portland Public Health Division's Minority Health Program, MaineHealth/CarePartners, University of New England College of Dental Medicine, and cPort Credit Union. The collaboration has also begun to draw in new community partners while it works to identify new populations who may be interested in the model.

SmilePartners provides oral health literacy education to participants with on-the-ground implementation led by community health workers. Participants receive dental care services on a sliding fee scale. The pilot program's successes, according to USM's news release, include an 80% completion rate and 97% appointment adherence, with 80% of participants planning to continue preventive appointments.

"Northeast Delta Dental is proud to support SmilePartners as we understand the important connection between oral and overall health," said Kathleen B. Walker, treasurer of the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation and director of marketing and communications at Northeast Delta Dental. "We are happy to be able to help some of Maine's most vulnerable residents access necessary preventive and comprehensive dental care."

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