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    Delta Dental of Massachusetts Awards Grant to Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers Oral Health Substance Use Disorder Pilot

    With Delta Dental’s support, the League is adding the Cambridge Health Alliance and Springfield-based Caring Health Center to the learning network for 2021. 

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    BOSTON - May 26, 2021 — Delta Dental of Massachusetts (DDMA), the largest provider of dental benefits in the state, recently granted $18,000 to expand the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers (the League) Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Pilot Project.

    Through the SUD Pilot Project, the League is offering educational webinars and trainings for all community health centers in Massachusetts. These trainings focus on incorporating addiction screening tools, such as the evidence-based approach known as SBIRT (screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment) in dental practices, safe prescribing, prescription monitoring and other relevant topics.

    Five community health centers (three in Suffolk County, one in Franklin County, and one in Bristol County) have been participating in the pilot’s learning network, which launched in 2020. With Delta Dental’s support, the League is adding the Cambridge Health Alliance and Springfield-based Caring Health Center to the learning network for 2021.

    "The coronavirus pandemic and limitations on social interactions have widened the gap between patients with SUDs who need treatment and those who actually receive treatment,” said Dennis Leonard, Delta Dental of Massachusetts president and CEO.  “Health centers in this pilot will refine best practices for engaging with SUD patients, and the League will immediately share that work through webinars and trainings for the benefit of all community health center dental practices across the state.” 

    The CDC has reported spikes in drug overdose deaths1 during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 30 states reporting increases in opioid-involved overdose deaths. A National Institutes of Health-funded study2 found that people with SUDs are more susceptible to COVID-19 and its complications. This data reinforces the importance and value of the training and technical assistance that the League is providing in the pilot’s learning network.

    “Health center training on safe opioid prescribing methods and managing acute dental pain is having a measurable impact in the vulnerable communities we serve,” said Michael Curry, president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. “We’re already having more success identifying patients with SUDs and linking them to the critical treatment and recovery supports they need.”  

    Through a four-year grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has partnered with the League to award seven community health centers across the state with funding to integrate oral health and behavioral health through an oral health substance use disorder learning network.  

    About Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
    The League  is a non-profit statewide membership organization supporting and representing the needs of the state’s 52 community health centers, which provide primary and preventive care to more than one million state residents. The League serves as an information resource on community-based primary care to policymakers, opinion leaders and the media; and provides a wide range of technical assistance to its health center members, including advocacy on health policy issues, support for workforce development, clinical care and technology initiatives, and guidance to state leaders and community-based organizations seeking to open health centers in their communities.

    About Delta Dental of Massachusetts
    Delta Dental of Massachusetts (, the largest provider of dental benefits in the state, is a leader in innovative programs that improve the overall health of members, prevent oral disease and reduce health care costs for employers, groups and individuals. Headquartered in Charlestown, Mass., Delta Dental of Massachusetts, a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association (, covers more than 2 million people. Follow us on Twitter (@DeltaDentalofMA), Facebook (, and Instagram (@deltadentalofma) and check out the monthly oral health calendar at