Delta Dental of Tennessee Honors Well being Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey

Delly Bezoss

Delta Dental of Tennessee (Delta Dental) and its charitable arm, the Smile180 Basis, have acknowledged outgoing Tennessee Well being Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey with its third-ever Smile Energy Award.

The award, which celebrates a person who has made a big constructive affect on the oral well being of Tennesseans, was given to Dr. Piercey in recognition of her stewardship of the state’s new 5-year, $94 million pilot program to broaden entry to dental care often known as the Wholesome Smiles Initiative.


Click here to view a video of the award presentation.

“Too usually folks deal with oral well being as a separate problem, and I’ve to remind them that your mouth is linked to the remainder of your physique,” stated Dr. Phil Wenk, CEO of Delta Dental. “However Commissioner Piercey understood the significance and urgency of addressing our dental disaster in Tennessee from the beginning, and performed a important position within the improvement and supreme approval of the Wholesome Smiles Initiative. Generations of Tennesseans will profit from her management, and I can’t consider a greater or extra deserving recipient of this award.”

On the request of Governor Invoice Lee, Commissioner Piercey convened a bunch of dental trade stakeholders from throughout the state in early 2021 to develop suggestions to extend entry to high-quality, reasonably priced dental take care of Tennesseans.

The workgroup, which included dentists, dental hygienists, the state’s two dental faculties, TennCare, the Division of Well being, payors, security internet clinics, and others, settled on a complete set of proposals that grew to become the Wholesome Smiles Initiative.

The most important parts of the Wholesome Smiles Initiative are an growth of dental college class sizes, new and strengthened workforce recruitment and retention efforts, and elevated security internet funding. Two current, confirmed security internet packages will obtain a big increase: the Smile On 65+ program, which gives oral well being care and case administration providers for older adults, and the prosthodontic grant program, which has up to now helped present greater than 2,300 Tennesseans seen in safety-net clinics with low- or no-cost dentures.

A kind of Tennesseans is Samantha, a 33-year-old single mom of three from Paris, Tennessee who received life-saving care at Interfaith Dental Clinic.

“All the pieces we do on the Division of Well being goes again to our mission assertion – to guard, promote, and enhance the well being and prosperity of individuals in Tennessee,” stated Dr. Piercey. “The Wholesome Smiles Initiative checks all of these containers – even and particularly prosperity – as a result of when you don’t have a wholesome smile, you will have hassle discovering and holding a job, actually one which aligns together with your abilities and capabilities.”

“Lots of of us don’t acknowledge how entry to dental care additionally impacts one other important problem in Tennessee: rural hospital sustainability,” Piercey added. “And not using a dentist close by, you find yourself with extra of us within the emergency room with points that might and will have been addressed by a dentist. And whereas the hospital has to – and needs to – take care of anybody who walks into the ER, they’re getting reimbursed little or no, if something, for these providers.”

Earlier than her appointment by Governor Lee in January 2019, Dr. Piercey, a board-certified youngster abuse pediatrician, spent a decade working in well being programs operations, most lately with West Tennessee Healthcare, a public, not-for-profit well being system with greater than 7,000 workers servicing 22 counties.

She has continued to see sufferers in her pediatric apply in Jackson, Tennessee, as soon as every week all through her service as Commissioner.

Piercey is the third recipient of the Smile Energy Award.

The late State Consultant Charles Sargent, a champion of oral well being points together with the denture grant program, received the inaugural Smile Power Award in 2018. Former Tennessee Insurance coverage Commissioner Julie Combine McPeak was honored in 2019 for her work in assist of the creation of Dental Dental’s Smile180 Basis.

The Smile180 Basis has donated greater than $21.5 million to Tennessee’s dental schools, youngsters’s hospitals, free and reduced-cost dental clinics, and different like-minded charities since its creation in 2015.

To study extra about Delta Dental’s philanthropic work throughout Tennessee, go to the Smile180 Foundation website.


Delta Dental of Tennessee is the state’s largest impartial dental advantages provider with almost 1.4 million lives coated. As a part of the Delta Dental Plans Affiliation, Delta Dental of Tennessee members have entry to the biggest dental community within the nation with greater than 154,000 suppliers serving greater than 437,000 places.

With the straightforward mission of guaranteeing wholesome smiles, Delta Dental of Tennessee works laborious to assist members of the communities it serves. Together with its company basis, Smile180, Delta Dental of Tennessee donated greater than $5.4 million in funding and in-kind providers to over 130 organizations in 2021.

Delta Dental of Tennessee Honors Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey

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