Healthy Smiles Initiative



Under the guidance of Governor Bill Lee, in 2021 the Department convened the Healthy Smiles Working Group and issued a comprehensive five-year proposal to improve oral health  in Tennessee. The Healthy Smiles Initiative working group included participating organizations such as TennCare, dental schools, non-Tennessee Department of  Health safety net dental clinics,  private sector dentists, non-profit groups, and dental payors. This working group developed recommendations to improve access to dental care in Tennessee and paid particular attention to the specific needs of rural and underserved populations. The final report issued by the Healthy Smiles Initiative included recommendations targeting the earliest stages of recruiting students into dental professions, training them to practice in underserved communities, and providing recruiting and retention incentives for service in high need populations. Recommendations also included further expanding safety net services and bolstering existing Tennessee Department of Health services and staff through offering advanced dental training for dental assistants and providing dentures in charitable care clinics.