Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation Awards $622,000 to Safety-Net Clinics Addressing Oral Health Care and Workforce Gaps in the Commonwealth

Funds will expand oral health care services in underserved parts of Virginia.

February 1, 2024

Media contact: Jeremy Butterfield,

ROANOKE, Va. — The Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation today announced $622,000 in grants to 10 safety-net clinics focused on meeting the critical oral health care needs of millions of Virginians.

“The work being done by Virginia’s safety net dental clinics is critical to the overall health of the patients served,” said Frank Lucia, Delta Dental of Virginia president and chief executive officer. “We know that many Virginians are struggling to access oral health care services, and our grantees are making an immediate difference by providing access to affordable dental care.”

According to findings from the Virginia Health Catalyst’s Oral Health Workforce Gap Assessment, there are not enough oral health professionals in many areas of the commonwealth. In fact, 103 of Virginia’s 133 localities are designated as dental geographic Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). Eight Virginia localities have no full-time equivalent (FTE) dentists, and five localities have no FTE dental hygienists.

“One-third of Virginians did not visit a dentist in 2022 and, of those who did, 38% had a permanent tooth extracted,” said Polly Raible, Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation executive director. “Virginians with the lowest incomes are more than twice as likely to have had an extraction, and we’re working hard with our partners to combat that disturbing trend by helping safety-net clinics expand their service models and treat more patients in need of help.”

From Northern Virginia to the far southwest corner of the state, safety-net clinics are developing creative solutions to expand the dental workforce, overcome language barriers and integrate new technologies that will ultimately allow them to serve more patients. This year’s grant initiatives include:

The Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation is in its 12th year of creating healthy smiles in the commonwealth. Since its inception in 2012, the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation has provided more than $13 million to foster unique community collaborations with partners throughout the state promoting oral health initiatives. For more information about our grant program and other Foundation initiatives, please visit

About Delta Dental of Virginia

Now celebrating its 60th year in operation, Delta Dental of Virginia is the largest dental benefits provider in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Delta Dental of Virginia provides high-quality, cost-effective dental plans to more than two million members. Through its foundation, Delta Dental of Virginia has donated millions of dollars to improve the oral health of Virginians. Delta Dental of Virginia is a member of the national Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA). Since 1954, the DDPA has worked to improve oral health nationally. Delta Dental member companies serve more than 89 million people in more than 166,000 groups across the nation.

About Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation

The Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation iis committed to improving the oral health of all Virginians. Created in 2012 by Delta Dental of Virginia, the Foundation has invested more than $13 million to support education, program development and community partnerships that help create healthy smiles in Virginia through improved access to oral health care, education and research.