Arizona has long been romanticized as a sparsely populated desert with wide open spaces and a slower-paced lifestyle. According to the 2010 census, Arizona boasts 6.55 million people and is the 15th most populated state in the country. The perception of the relaxed, wide-open desert lifestyle has given way to the reality of a large, bustling, multi-cultural city with a vast variety of populations, customs and traditions.
The Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation recognizes Arizona’s variety of cultures in the programs that received funding through our 2014 community grants cycle. Language barriers, cultural food choices and parenting customs all have varying effects on oral health. In an effort to break down the influences creating barriers for populations from achieving optimal oral health, the Foundation has awarded funds to educate and provide preventive dental services to the diverse people represented throughout Arizona, including:
Asian Pacific Community in Action – 1,000 Smile Bags
The driving force behind the establishment of the Asian Pacific Community in Action (APCA) in 2002 was to ensure that culturally responsive health information and services were available to the rapidly growing Asian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities in Arizona. APCA will distribute Smile Bags provided by the Foundation, which include a toothbrush, floss and toothpaste, to the first 1,000 individuals they provide oral health education, screening services, and healthcare enrollment and eligibility assistance to in the next year.
Chicanos Por La Causa – $15,000
Chicanos Por La Causa is a 40-year old community development corporation offering extensive economic development, education and social services programs to disadvantaged individuals. The grant provided by the Foundation supports a variety of oral health programs, including health screenings and fluoride varnish treatments to over 846 children under the age of five; education for pregnant mothers on the importance of good oral health before, during and after pregnancy; and oral hygiene supplies for families in the Early Childhood Development program. In addition, the grant funds will replace broken and outdated sanitizers used daily to clean the children’s toothbrushes in the Early Childhood Development programs across the state.
El Rio Community Health Center – $15,000 each for 3 years
El Rio Community Health Center advances the integration of oral health and general health in their medical-dental pediatric program by offering dental exams and fluoride varnish kiosks in the waiting areas of their pediatric medical sites. With the grant from the Foundation, El Rio will be able to expand the kiosks to a new medical site currently not offering dental services, plus build three pediatric dental operatories. Thousands of patients and their families are educated on the importance of early oral health care in these kiosks while attending visits to their pediatricians, in addition to benefitting from follow up phone calls from the medical staff to assist patients with dental concerns in establishing a dental home.
Native Health – $25,000
Native Health is a Federally Qualified Community Health Center providing high-quality health and wellness services for Native American Tribal members. The grant funds provided by the Foundation facilitate the Native Kids Dental Health Improvement Project, providing educational information, outreach services, fluoride treatment and oral health supplies to over 3,800 children and adults. The funds also provide for this program to reach people in non-traditional venues such as health fairs, pow-wows and other community-based events.
Arizona is a beautiful mosaic comprised of many ethnic and cultural people throughout the state, which are well-represented in the oral health populations served through funding from the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation.