Normandale to advance innovative practice of dental therapy with Delta Dental grant

By Steven Geller - Director of Media and Public Relations

A $150,000 grant from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation will establish a new scholarship program at Normandale Community College to support students seeking a degree in advanced dental therapy.

Advanced dental therapists are professional members of the dental team who provide essential treatment and prevention services, with a focus on reaching patients who may otherwise have difficulty finding care due to factors such as cost, distance, language and disabilities. Often, dental therapists serve rural, low-income, and other vulnerable and underserved populations. In 2009, Minnesota was the first state in the nation to pass legislation to establish the advanced dental therapist as a member of the dental care team.  

"We are thrilled to provide this support to advance dental therapy in Minnesota. Far too many Minnesotans lack access to basic dental care. More advanced dental therapists in our communities means access to more, and better, care for Minnesotans of all ages who otherwise wouldn't be able to receive it," said Joe Lally, Executive Director of Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. "This grant directly supports our mission to increase access to quality oral health care for all Minnesotans, and we are so looking forward to seeing it in action."  

Approximately 2-3 scholarships will be awarded each year to students who demonstrate passion and commitment to public health, and financial need. Because the only dental therapy programs are in the Twin Cities, the financial support is particularly important to help students from rural areas commit to the program while maintaining balance with other family and personal commitments.  

"This generous grant from the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation is all about access," remarked Dr. Colleen Brickle, Normandale Community College's Dean of Health Sciences. "First, the scholarships will increase access for students who are passionate about dental hygiene and oral health, but who otherwise can't afford to pursue the advanced dental therapy degree. When the scholarship recipients graduate, we anticipate they will practice in underserved communities around Minnesota, particularly in rural areas that often face a shortage of dentists. As a result, more Minnesotans will have access to oral health care when and where they need it, which will reduce the costs of healthcare and improve health outcomes for our state."  

About Normandale Community College Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota enrolls more than 14,000 students each school year. The college is a member of the Minnesota State System, which includes 30 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 400,000 students. Information about educational opportunities offered by Normandale Community College is available by calling (952) 358-8200 or visiting www.normandale.edu.   

About Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation: In 2009, Delta Dental of Minnesota's parent sold a company and used 100 percent of the proceeds to establish and fund Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports Delta Dental of Minnesota's mission of improving the health of Minnesotans through oral health. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation works to expand access to dental care for Minnesota's underserved populations across the state by primarily investing in programs and organizations that provide dental care to people in need. Since 2011, the foundation has invested more than $21 million in grants to nearly 70 programs and organizations that provide care and promote oral health.  

Press contacts:

Colleen Brickle, Normandale Community College 952-358-8158 colleen.brickle@normandale.edu  

Clarise Tushie-Lessard, Delta Dental of Minnesota 612-224-3341 (o) 612-437-7191 (m) ctushie-lessard@deltadentalmn.org