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Trying a New Approach in South Dakota

This article was produced and provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Not-for-profit dental insurance provider Delta Dental of South Dakota is responding to the critical need for better access to dental services by adding 24 registered dental hygienists and community health representatives to treat, educate, and coordinate dental care for American Indian mothers, young children, and diabetics. The approach is being supported with a $3.4 million innovation award from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Currently, Delta Dental covers more than 30,000 isolated, low-income and underserved Medicaid beneficiaries and other American Indians on reservations throughout the state. Many adults end up going to emergency rooms and dental surgical centers because they aren’t treated early enough. By avoiding emergency visits, Delta Dental estimates that health spending could be reduced by $6.2 million over three years.