Our History | Delta Dental of Washington

We’ve always focused on what truly matters—your healthy smile. It drives everything we do.

A few decades ago, most adults over 50 had dentures and very few people saw the dentist unless it was an emergency.
Dental benefits didn’t exist because good oral health simply wasn’t that important. Fortunately, a small group of
Washingtonians set out to revolutionize oral health care.

In 1954, the Washington State Dental Service Corporation (now Delta Dental of Washington) was born. It was a pilot
program to help give longshoremen’s children access to dental care. It wasn’t expected to last a year, but it ended up
pioneering a new industry— dental benefits.

By 1960, we began providing plans for adults. Five years later, we joined other industry pioneers to create the Delta Dental
Plans Association. The Delta Dental system is now the largest dental benefit provider in the country and the industry leader.

Here’s a brief timeline of our history:


  • Thank you, Washington, for 60 years of smiles!


  • We and our foundation provided $5 million to fund the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, a partnership between the University of Washington School of Dentistry and Seattle Children’s Hospital


  • We endowed $2 million to the UW School of Dentistry to help teach essential business skills to dentists


  • The SmileMobile hits the road! It’s travelled over 100,000 miles and provided dental care to over 30,000 low-income children


  • The Washington Dental Service Foundation is born, with the mission to improve the oral and overall health of people in Washington


  • Dental benefits become a standard element in employee benefits packages


  • We jumped aboard the computer revolution and got our first computerized claims-processing system


  • Our staff grew to 19!


  • We joined with 3 other pioneering dental benefit companies to found the Delta Dental Plans Association


  • It cost $10 for dental x-rays, $5 for cleanings, $6 for an extraction, and $5 for a filling


  • Like David Copperfield, we are born