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Philip Wenk: Celebrate Smile Power Week

Philip Wenk • Jun 14, 2017 at 7:22 PM

The power of a smile is transformative. Tennessee and Gov. Bill Haslam have proclaimed this week as Tennessee Smile Power Week – showcasing the importance of oral health in our state. 

This year, the Tennessee Charitable Care Network and Delta Dental of Tennessee’s Smile180 Foundation are partnering together to bring awareness to the importance of healthy smiles.

We are fortunate in Tennessee to have more than 20 dental clinics dedicated to restoring smiles each day by providing care to those who couldn’t otherwise afford it – allowing them to start smiling again. The power of the smile is transformative. These clinics work with clients each day who can’t find work, who are having difficulties in relationships, and who are looked upon differently, all because they can’t show a healthy smile. 

We know it’s happening everywhere across our state. Studies show that 20 percent of Tennessee adults ages 18-64 have lost six or more teeth due to decay, infection or gum disease, a statistic that is two times the national median.

Why should we care about a smile? Smiling can make others happy, smiling can make you more attractive, smiling can reduce stress, smiling can help you land a job, and smiling just feels good. It even helps your physical health. Research shows that smiling when you’re stressed can help lower your heart rate and make you feel better sooner. Smiles that engage your eye and mouth muscles have the most positive impact on your mood and physical health.

There is tremendous need in our state. It is the mission of the Smile180 Foundation to help break the cycle of dental disease by partnering and supporting reduced-cost dental clinics that help restore smiles.

Tennessee’s charitable and reduced cost dental clinics provided more than 25,000 procedures in 2016 to Tennesseans who would not have otherwise received care. Finding that dental care has helped so many people find their smiles and changed their lives.

How can you help pass on Smile power? Clinics always need volunteers, especially trained dental professionals, but it could be as simple as giving your neighbor a smile as you pass by.

Be sure to smile this week. It’s contagious. 

Dr. Philip Wenk is president and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee.

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