MTSU center lands $30K March of Dimes grant for de...

MTSU center lands $30K March of Dimes grant for dental training program

MTSU’s Center for Health and Human Services has received $30,000 from the March of Dimes Tennessee Chapter Community Grants Program to provide training to area dental providers on best practices for smoking cessation.

Smile SMART is a patient-centered smoking-cessation training program for dentists, hygienists and dental assistants, according to a March of Dimes news release. It is an adaptation of the highly successful and award-winning SMART Moms – Smart Mothers Are Resisting Tobacco, a program that trains providers who provide services to pregnant women in smoking cessation best practices.

The Smile SMART project will be piloted with Rutherford County dental providers and the Hamilton County Health Department’s dental program, though other providers who express an interest are welcome to participate.

The goal of Smile SMART is to empower dental professionals to use the evidence-based five A’s — Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange — to encourage their patients to quit smoking or decrease tobacco use, and to reduce women’s and infants’ exposure to secondhand smoke, ultimately reducing tobacco-related preterm birth, low-birth weight and other adverse birth outcomes.

Cynthia Chafin, Center for Health and Human Services interim director

Cynthia Chafin

“Dental providers have opportunities to connect with their patients about the impact of smoking on their oral health as well as the impact of exposure to secondhand smoke of those around them, including children,” said Cynthia Chafin, interim director of MTSU’s Center for Health and Human Services and Smile SMART project director. “We are very excited to expand the initial pilot project to include dental providers.”

Joining Chafin will be Dr. Andrew Owusu, associate professor in the MTSU Department of Health and Human Performance Department, who will serve as project evaluator. Dr. Maria L. Geisinger, a dentist and assistant professor in the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s Department of Periodontology, will serve as a project consultant, as will Dr. Lynne Goebel of the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

In the research article titled “Tobacco Cessation Education for Dentists,” results found that “dentists with tobacco cessation training perform more interventions, report increased self-efficacy, preparedness and fewer barriers than those without training.”

Dentists with cessation training were “more likely to discuss the personal relevance of quitting, roadblocks and setting quit dates, identify triggers, discuss pharmacotherapy and provide follow-up,” the article reported.

Smile SMART will partner with the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Periodontology to research changes in provider behavior in Tennessee practitioners who implement the program.

The initial SMART Moms pilot project trained over 400 providers and reached over 13,000 women with one-on-one smoking cessation counseling. Results of the project were published in the Journal of Allied Health and indicated successes that exceeded programs offered in similar settings.

MTSU wordmark webFounded by the Adams Chair of Excellence in Health Care Services in 1993, the MTSU Center for Health and Human Services collaborates with public agencies, private not-for-profit organizations, and MTSU faculty and students to improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans. Since 2001, CHHS and the Adams Chair have received over $7 million in grants and contracts.

For more information on CHHS and the Smile SMART provider training program, or to learn how the center can help meet your organization’s research, training, or education needs, contact Chafin at 615-898-5493 or or visit the center’s website at

The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Visit the March of Dimes website to learn more at