Delta Dental of Tennessee Commits Over $1 Million to Cleft and Craniofacial Program at Children’s Hospital

Delta Dental of Tennessee
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The charitable arm of Delta Dental of Tennessee, the Smile180 Foundation, has announced a $1.075 million commitment to the Cleft and Craniofacial Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The funds will be used to establish the Delta Dental of Tennessee’s Smile180 Foundation Directorship for the Cleft and Craniofacial Program, and to provide critical support as the program seeks to expand its services to care for more young patients and their families.

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The commitment, first announced Sunday afternoon at First Horizon Park in advance of the “Smile Power Sunday” Nashville Sounds game, expands on Delta Dental’s longstanding support for Children’s Hospital. Since 2001, Delta Dental and Smile180 have donated more than $2.3 million to Children’s Hospital and supported various fundraising events and initiatives.

“We are thankful for Delta Dental of Tennessee and the Smile180 Foundation for their continued generosity and steadfast commitment to our programs for more than two decades,” said Jeffrey Upperman, MD, FACS, surgeon-in-chief of Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatric Surgery. “Support from organizations like Delta Dental plays an important role in our mission to expand and enhance our quality, cutting-edge patient care and enables our teams to advance health care through translational research, all with the goal to meet the complex needs of children and families. We could not do the work we do every day without our community partners.”

This program cares for patients with a wide range of facial differences and is led by Michael Golinko, MD, FACS, FAAP, medical director of the Cleft and Craniofacial Program and chief of Pediatric Plastic Surgery, along with Jim Phillips, MD, BS, co-director of the Cleft Lip and Palate team.

The complexity of this team’s cases means that patients often stay with the program for multiple years and require care from an integrated team of specialists.

The Delta Dental Directorship, which will be filled through a rigorous nomination process, represents a mark of distinction for a highly regarded clinician. The holder of this directorship will have the resources to accelerate advances in the Cleft and Craniofacial Program.

“Dr. Golinko and his team are doing truly amazing work to restore healthy smiles and brighter futures for thousands of kids from across the region,” said Phil Wenk, DDS, President and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee. “We are thrilled to support this vision and the continued growth and expansion of the Cleft and Craniofacial Program.”

Of the total commitment from Delta Dental, $75,000 will ensure the Cleft and Craniofacial team has the ability to pursue high-priority needs and take advantage of emerging opportunities as they arise. This could include expanding and enhancing patient care, investing in state-of-the-art technology and adding new programming so children can receive comprehensive, world-class care.

“Our goal is to expand the scope of the Cleft and Craniofacial Program, establishing it as a premier, internationally recognized program for comprehensive, family-centric cleft and craniofacial care,” said Golinko. “This extremely generous commitment from Delta Dental of Tennessee and the Smile180 Foundation builds upon the longstanding relationship between our institutions whose missions are exactly aligned. This endowment will make a tremendous impact in our ability to meet the complex needs of patients with facial differences from birth through early adulthood, advance the field through research and innovation and moreover, attract and retain outstanding leaders in cleft and craniofacial care.”

The announcement kicks off the 7th annual Smile Power Oral Health Week. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has recognized June 13-17, 2022, as Smile Power Week to promote healthy smiles and the transformative power of oral health care. For more information about Smile Power Week, click here.

Patient ambassador, Judah Anderson, and his family attended the announcement at First Horizon Park and shared their story. To learn more about Judah’s story, click here.

For more information about the Cleft and Craniofacial Program at Children’s Hospital, click here. For more information about Delta Dental of Tennessee, visit


Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals, treating and helping to prevent a full range of pediatric health issues from colds and broken bones to complex heart diseases and cancer.

Achieving 10 out of 10 nationally ranked pediatric specialties in 2021, Children’s Hospital was again named among the nation’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” for the 15th consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report.

Additionally, Children’s Hospital again earned the distinction as the No. 1 pediatric hospital in Tennessee, and in a new regional ranking, sharing first place in the Southeast Region.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, a nonprofit organization, opened in 2004, expanded its physical space in 2012, and recently added four new floors encompassing 160,000 total sq. ft. The new expansion helps to advance the size and scope of the hospital’s mission.

For more about Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at


Delta Dental of Tennessee is the state’s largest independent dental benefits carrier with nearly 1.4 million lives covered. As part of the Delta Dental Plans Association, Delta Dental of Tennessee members have access to the largest dental network in the nation with more than 154,000 providers serving more than 437,000 locations.

With the simple mission of ensuring healthy smiles, Delta Dental of Tennessee works hard to help members of the communities it serves. Along with its corporate foundation, Smile180, Delta Dental of Tennessee donated more than $5.4 million in funding and in-kind services to over 130 organizations in 2021.

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.