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Posted on September 16, 2020 in Foundation

The Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation approved a $350,000, two-year commitment to the Iowa Department of Public Health to continue funding the I-Smile SilverTM pilot project. I-Smile Silver is part of the I-SmileTM dental home initiative of the Iowa Department of Public Health. First funded in 2014 by the Foundation, I-Smile Silver currently covers 10 Iowa counties; Calhoun, Des Moines, Hamilton, Humboldt, Lee, Pocahontas, Scott, Van Buren, Webster, and Wright. This funding seeks to expand coverage across Iowa with the focus of improving access to dental care and preventing oral disease in vulnerable populations.

Coordinators of the I-Smile Silver project, originally championed by Lifelong Smiles Coalition, and supported by Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), deliver improved oral health care by developing partnerships. The Coordinator team is responsible for incorporating oral health education for direct care providers, developing oral health protocols for care facilities, providing referral support for dental care, and working across the wide spectrum of health care professionals to identify integration opportunities and reduce barriers to care.

“For many years, the Foundation has focused our energy and financial commitment on the oral and overall health connection of Iowa’s aging population,” said Suzanne Heckenlaible, executive director of the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation. “Now, in a time when our most vulnerable populations are isolated and perhaps not able to receive routine health care, the work of I-Smile Silver is more important than ever. Connecting at-risk Iowans with dental care, to reduce barriers such as transportation and finances, and working with our health care partners creates a referral network that impacts quality of life and health for these individuals.”

Through the support of the program and work of the I-Smile Silver Coordinators, some of the recent initiatives have included:

  • Working with Iowa State University to incorporate oral assessment into their internship practicum in the dietetics program
  • Partnering with Genesis Hospital in southeast Iowa to develop and implement oral hygiene protocols for patients during hospital stays to prevent cases of non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia
  • Partnering with the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and Lifelong Smiles Coalition to develop a public awareness campaign, “Don’t Retire Your Dental Care,” in an effort to improve dental insurance literacy
  • Establishing a network of dentists who will work with the Veteran’s Trust Fund, which pays for dental services for qualified veterans, in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs

Since the launch of I-Smile Silver in 2014, the data collected by the program has fueled effective strategy changes to reduce disparities in care and identify resources. Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation has provided more than $1.85 million to support I-Smile Silver since inception. For more information, visit  or DeltaDentalofIowa/