The ADA will honor its first ADA Humanitarian Award recipient at its 149th Annual Session and World Marketplace Exhibition, which will take place from October 16 to October 19 in San Antonio. The ADA Board of Trustees selected Thomas S. Underwood, DDS, of Nashville, Tenn, for his 20-year commitment to providing humanitarian efforts to people in need of dental care.

"I am delighted that Dr Underwood is the first recipient of the new and very prestigious ADA Humanitarian award," said ADA President Mark J. Feldman, DMD. "He has truly brought smiles and comfort to thousands of needy individuals through his tireless efforts, and has set the bar very high."

Underwood founded the Nashville Interfaith Dental Clinic in 1994 with support from the Nashville Dental Society and the outreach commission of the West End United Methodist Church. The Humanitarian Award gives Underwood $1,500 to donate to the clinic, which provides comprehensive dental care on a sliding scale to working, low-income families who don’t have dental insurance.

In the mid-1990s, Underwood worked with state legislators and the TennCare Medicaid oversight committee to develop a dental care model that has more than 850 dentists statewide treating TennCare children from birth through age 20. The program, which launched in 2002, has been recognized nationally as a model program for other states.

“It’s an honor to be the recipient of the inaugural Humanitarian Award," said Underwood. "After volunteering in Israel, Jamaica, Honduras, Kenya, and Zambia, I realized how many people were suffering from lack of comprehensive oral care in my own state. I knew there was something we could do to make it better right here at home."

[ADA, October 2, 2008]