The Duke Endowment and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation have announced commitments totaling more than $35 million, with additional commitments pledged by the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, to improve access to oral health care in the Carolinas.
The investments will support initiatives aimed at expanding access to affordable preventive oral health care, including school-based oral health programs that deliver preventive services and address restorative treatment needs in rural and underserved schools; partnerships to promote evidence-based solutions for improving oral healthcare delivery, including the North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative; and models that integrate dental and medical care, with the goal of lowering costs.
The Duke Endowment will invest in efforts in both states, while the Blue Cross NC Foundation and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation will focus on initiatives in their respective states.
"Oral disease is highly preventable, yet millions living in North and South Carolina still suffer from it, affecting chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, as well as school and work attendance, healthcare costs, and overall quality of life," said Duke Endowment healthcare program officer Stacy Warren. "As philanthropists committed to improving health in our region, we recognize that oral health is closely tied to all aspects of well-being and an area of health where the opportunity to affect change is ripe."
"We know that early intervention can be very powerful in affecting health outcomes overall," said Erika Kirby, executive director of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation. "An increased focus on promoting good oral health habits and improving oral health status, especially for children most at risk of poor oral health, can have profound consequences for long-term health status."