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Grants help people with disabilities pay for dental care

Star Tribune - 11/23/2018

Nov. 23--A Minnetonka man is smiling more brightly these days, thanks to a grant from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation and Wayzata-based nonprofit Hammer Residences.

The man is among almost 300 people served by Hammer, which provides residential programs and support for people with disabilities in the western Twin Cities suburbs.

Earlier this year, the foundation granted Hammer $30,000 to help clients pay for dental care. Hammer has been receiving grants from Delta Dental for four years, said Hannah Barnes, Hammer's communications specialist.

Most Hammer residents receive dental benefits through Medical Assistance, Minnesota's Medicaid program. Those benefits generally cover only one checkup and cleaning a year, Barnes said. Any further dental work must be paid for out of pocket.

People with developmental disabilities often suffer more severe oral-health problems than the population in general, Barnes said. "So this [grant] is obviously absolutely crucial."

Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation and corporate giving have, since 2010, distributed grants to hundreds of organizations throughout the state to improve access, education and oral health care. Grants have been awarded in other metro-area cities, including Brooklyn Park, Eagan, Hopkins, Shakopee, Waconia, Blaine and Stillwater.

Thanks to the Hammer grant the Minnetonka man was able to get the root canal he needed. Otherwise he would have had to pay more than $1,700 for the procedure, Barnes said.

He lives in one of the 36 residential care homes that Hammer operates in the western suburbs. He attends a day program and does not currently work.

Before he received the treatment, Hammer staffers noticed that the man, usually cheerful and joking, seemed more subdued. The pain was bothering him.

"His program manager said he wasn't the type to talk about pain unless it was something that was really hurting him," she said. "Now he's back to his old self. His confidence level is back to where it was before all this pain."

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