FRESNO, Calif., March 03, 2015 - The Cigna Foundation today announced that Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation will receive a $103,000 World of Difference grant to help provide ongoing oral health services to more than 2,500 currently underserved children in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Merced Counties.
Using a mobile van equipped as a state-of-the-art dental office, Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation professionals travel to over 75 rural and inner-city communities. A critical component of their services is oral health education for both children and their parents. The grant will help cover oral health supplies, sealants that prevent decay on primary molars and other expenses associated with operating an effective traveling clinic.
"Every day, our dental professionals see children who are experiencing tooth decay and gum disease - health challenges that are completely preventable. We are excited to be joined by Cigna and the Cigna Foundation to expand our services so that more children of all backgrounds can enjoy smiles that last a lifetime," said Tai Hartman, executive director for Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation.
"Healthy teeth are an important contributor to a healthy body. We want all children to be able to fulfill their potential, and are pleased to work together with Healthy Smiles Mobile Foundation in providing access to important oral health care in our community," said Peter Welch, Cigna president and general manager, Northern California.
Regular dental care is critical in maintaining oral health. Decayed teeth can affect a child's overall health and eating. In addition, it may be painful, impacting school attendance and performance. A study by the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California found that socioeconomically disadvantaged elementary students missed, on average, 2.1 days of school during the year because of dental problems. In addition, children who reported having recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a lower grade point average than children without pain. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 42 percent of uninsured children ages 2 to 17 haven't seen a dentist in more than a year.
"What attracted us to Healthy Smiles is their commitment to bringing good oral health to young people from economically stressed families in a creative, culturally sensitive way," said David Figliuzzi, executive director of the Cigna Foundation. "With their focus on children who have the least access to care, such as children from migrant, homeless, and uninsured families, Healthy Smiles is a great partner in helping fulfill the World of Difference goal of making a healthy, more secure life a reality for individuals everywhere."
The Cigna Foundation World of Difference grants provide support for improving children's wellness, senior care, women's health and health equity - the four social priorities for Cigna's corporate responsibility platform known as Cigna Connects.
About Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation
Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation, established in 1994 by Dr. Wayne I. Kodama, is a mobile dental practice with 20-years' experience in providing consistent, compassionate oral health care to over 5,000 at-risk children annually in over 75 rural and inner-city communities in the agricultural heartland of California. Their program is designed to provide regular visits to multiple communities, and is founded on cultural competency and diversity as well as sensitivity to economic issues. Their caring, professional team is multi-cultural and multi-lingual. Many of them faced the same dental health challenges as the children they serve.
About the Cigna Foundation
The Cigna Foundation, founded in 1962, is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work.
Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has approximately 85 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.