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Children's Wisconsin dental program receives gift from Delta Dental

$1 million commitment from Delta Dental to expand Children’s Wisconsin dental program

Children’s Wisconsin is excited to announce a $1 million commitment from Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation to support the expansion of its dental program, which will increase access to oral health care for some of the state’s most vulnerable. The Children’s Wisconsin dental program specializes in providing comprehensive care to kids of all ages, as well as kids with physical, developmental or intellectual disabilities, complex medical histories, sensory impairment and/or behavioral issues. More than 90 percent of those who receive dental care at Children’s Wisconsin are covered through Medicaid.

Delta Dental’s donation includes $350,000 to support the expansion of the Children's Wisconsin Milwaukee campus dental program and $150,000 to provide training and education in special care dentistry. Delta Dental is also committing up to $500,000 in the form of a challenge grant — the Healthy Smiles Healthy Kids Challenge — to support the expansion project. Matching gifts from individuals or organizations can be made online at any time at

Children’s Wisconsin is one of the largest providers of pediatric dental care in Wisconsin, serving approximately 22,000 patients every year across four locations, as well as in its inpatient and outpatient operating rooms. The Children’s Wisconsin dental program is recognized for its expertise in special care dentistry, with about 35 percent of all patients having a disability. Most are seen at the Children’s Wisconsin Milwaukee campus where  dental care can be coordinated with other medical specialists. 

There is very high demand for the dental care provided at Children’s Wisconsin. Across its locations offering dental services, more than 4,000 new patients are waiting for an appointment. Expanding the program on the Milwaukee campus will help reduce this waitlist by as much as 50 percent and increase access for the most vulnerable populations in southeastern Wisconsin. When the expansion is completed, the space will have 20 chairs — adding seven to the 13 existing chairs.

Children’s Wisconsin is also the state’s only pediatric dental residency program serving as the sole training ground for pediatric dentists. “Funding from Delta Dental to expand our space will allow us to provide more training and experience in special care dentistry to Marquette University dental students and our professional dental colleagues. Familiarizing them with the needs of patients with disabilities and providing them with the opportunity to feel the rewards of serving this population, is a critical first step in improving much-needed access,” said Lori Barbeau, DDS, medical director of the Children’s Wisconsin dental program. “We’re so grateful to the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation for partnering with Children’s Wisconsin so we can be a safe, comforting space for even more patients who need us.”

“This has been a long time coming. Together with Children’s Wisconsin we have collaborated for six years to put the pieces together that will truly make an impact for children with disabilities and the next generation of dentists,” said Dennis Peterson, president of Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation. “When you can help make a difference not only in regard to the current need for increased patient capacity but also training for the future workforce, the decision to support this effort was an easy one.”

In Wisconsin, one in three kids lives with untreated tooth decay. When left untreated, tooth decay can take a toll on a child’s ability to eat, speak, sleep and learn. Each year, more than 51 million hours of school are missed due to dental problems. Many kids have such advanced tooth decay that their families seek care in an emergency room or urgent care to get relief from pain and infection. In some of these cases, untreated tooth decay leads to a hospital stay due to life-threatening infections. And in nearly every case, negative consequences could have been prevented with routine dental care.