Residents of Tennessee with low incomes often struggle to find and afford good oral care, prompting Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee Charitable Care Network (TCCN) to proclaim June 10 through June 14, 2019, Tennessee Oral Health Smile Power Week.
While June is National Smile Month, 45% of low-income adults say they avoid smiling, and 68% of them sometimes find life in general less satisfying due to the condition of their mouths and teeth, according to the ADA.
Furthermore, 86% of low-income adults cite cost as the main reason why they haven’t been to the dentist. Tennessee is one of only three states whose Medicaid program does not provide dental benefits, and those who rely on Medicaid for care often need help.
Smile Power Week is designed to promote awareness of the importance of oral health and showcase the work being done across the state by free and charitable clinics, which provide help and education about oral hygiene, leading to less pain, healthier smiles, and better lives.
“Because there remains an overall need for dental services for people of all ages, we are grateful to Delta Dental of Tennessee and its Smile180 Foundation for their generous support of our state’s free and charitable clinics,” said Mary Kiger, executive director of TCCN.
“These clinics are dramatically improving the lives of patients by relieving their pain and often restoring function to the mouth,” said Kiger.
Celebrations and educational events will be held in dental clinics across the state. Also, Marshall Molar, Delta Dental of Tennessee’s Official Ambassador of Smiles, will visit patients at children’s hospitals in Jackson, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Johnson City.
“Last year, Tennessee’s charitable dental clinics provided more than 34,600 procedures to Tennesseans who would have otherwise not received care,” said Phil Wenk, DDS, MD, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee.
“We know that the power of smiling changes lives, and we are proud to partner with dental clinics to help their communities smile,” said Wenk.