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MILWAUKEE — Children’s Wisconsin has announced the successful completion of the Healthy Smiles Healthy Kids Challenge, a fundraising initiative that raised over $700,000.

The challenge grant was made possible by a contribution from the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation. Alongside Delta Dental’s commitment of $1 million, the total funds raised amounted to an impressive $1.7 million.

The primary goal of this fundraising endeavor is to support the expansion of the Children’s Wisconsin Dental Center and provide additional training to enhance dental care for pediatric patients with special needs. A significant portion of the funds will be allocated to creating a state-of-the-art dental office on the Children’s Wisconsin Milwaukee campus, featuring an increase in exam chairs from the current 13 to 19.

“It means a lot to us that we can work with Children’s Wisconsin to help expand dental services, especially to kids who are in the most need,” said Dennis Peterson, the president of the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation. “Beyond the expansion of the physical space, we are also excited to see more future dentists, committed to the oral health of kids, get trained right here in Wisconsin.”

The new dental office will incorporate a low-sensory waiting area and exam rooms designed to create a calming environment for patients and their families. The layout will include elements such as low lighting, soft designs, attention to sensory details, calming music, and minimalistic decor to offer an escape from the sensory overload often experienced in larger reception areas.

Delta Dental commitment to expand pediatric dental residency program

Delta Dental’s commitment will also play a crucial role in expanding the Children’s Wisconsin pediatric dental residency program.

By training additional dental students, the program will be able to provide a higher number of dental procedures, ultimately benefitting a greater number of young patients. Currently, Children’s Wisconsin is the only program in the state offering a pediatric dental residency rotation.

“The need for dental care is great, particularly for kids and families with special medical needs or who are covered by Medicaid,” said Dr. Lori Barbeau, the medical director of the Children’s Wisconsin Dental Center. “We’re so grateful to the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation for partnering with Children’s so we can serve even more patients who need us.”

Children’s Wisconsin serves as one of the largest providers of pediatric dental care for vulnerable populations in the state, with approximately 22,000 visits annually across four locations. An impressive 90% of these patients receive dental care through Medicaid. The facility is dedicated to caring for children with special medical needs or disabilities, and due to its vital role in serving the region’s most vulnerable kids, there are currently as many as 4,000 new patients on the waiting list.

Construction on new Children’s Wisconsin clinic to commence in 2023

Construction on the new clinic is expected to commence at the end of 2023, with the new space set to open its doors to patients in 2025.

In addition to the Milwaukee campus, Children’s Wisconsin Dental Center operates in three other locations, including the Forest Home, Midtown and Next Door clinics. The project’s success signifies a significant step forward in expanding access to essential dental care for the region’s young population, particularly those facing special medical needs or financial constraints.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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