Dental benefits

History of oral health: The evolution of dental coverage

Dental coverage has changed the way we take care of our mouths, and Delta Dental is proud to play a part as the nation’s leading provider of dental benefits. Take a look at how it’s evolved in the U.S. since its origins in the 1950s.

Before dental plans became available, patients paid their full bill out of pocket for every service received. As a result, they tended to only visit the dentist when something was wrong instead of seeking preventive care.

Dentists and employers noticed a need for better access to oral health care and preventive care in particular. This drove the formation of the first dental service organizations in California, Oregon and Washington.

As the popularity of dental coverage spread, multiple dental organizations came together. In 1966, they formed Delta Dental Plans Association to help companies provide high-quality dental benefits, especially companies operating in multiple states. The following year, Delta Dental of Washington partnered with the International Association of Machinists to provide the first multi-state dental benefits program.

Today, Delta Dental Plans Association provides coverage to more Americans than any other dental benefits company. With a network of 39 independent Delta Dental companies, we help keep smiles healthy in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories. Those with coverage are more likely to visit the dentist, schedule appointments for their children and experience greater oral and overall health.