Kool Smiles

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Kool Smiles, PC
Industry Dentistry
Founded East Lake, Atlanta, U.S. in 2002
Founder Dr. Tu Tran, Dr. Thien Pham[1]
Headquarters Marietta, GA, U.S.
Number of locations
Area served
United States
Services Dentistry
Owner Dr. Tu Tran[1]
Website Kool Smiles
Kool Smiles Houston-Aldine dental clinic in unincorporated Harris County, Texas

Kool Smiles, PC is a for-profit[2] dental services provider with its headquarters in the Kool Smiles Patient Support Center in Marietta, Georgia, U.S., in Greater Atlanta.

Kool Smiles operates dental clinics located in low income communities. In 2011, Kool Smiles had over 100 offices located in 17 states nationwide. Kool Smiles positions itself as a general dentistry that treats both children and adults, but focuses on children to gain as much profit they can from state insurances. The company recruits for general dentists, mainly new dentists out of school with little training treating children. Most of these newly hired dentists are foreigners that need visas to stay in the United States. They also try to recruit pediatric dentists, endodontists and oral surgeons.[citation needed]

Kool Smiles provides preventative care, diagnostic imaging and restorative care supported by electronic health records.


In August 2002, the first Kool Smiles location opened in East Lake, Atlanta, in DeKalb County,[3] near the city of Decatur.[2] The clinic only accepted patients on Medicaid and PeachCare, Georgia's state insurance program.[3] Brown said "The demand for service was unbelievable. These kids had nowhere to go for years and years."[4] Brown said that originally they planned to open ten to fifteen clinics.[4]

In 2004 Brown received a telephone call from Friedman Fleischer & Lowe (FFL), a private equity firm. The company had originally planned to purchase a different Medicaid dental chain, but FFL instead decided that it would form its own chain. Brown said that, as paraphrased by David Heath of the Center for Public Integrity, that the selection by FFL "was a million-to-one shot".[4] Heath wrote in a Frontline program that "the initial investment was small by private-equity standards."[4]

By 2005, Kool Smiles had opened six clinics in Georgia and two in Indianapolis, Indiana, and it had plans to open new clinics in Massachusetts and Virginia. It accepted patients on Medicaid and state insurance plans and patients who did "self pay". They did not accept private insurance.[2] In 2007, it had 10 clinics in Georgia.[5] Around that year, it served 71,000 children annually at its Georgia clinics.[6] In 2008, the chain had about 40 clinics in seven U.S. states.[7] In 2009 it operated 84 clinics in the entire United States.[8]

In 2012, Frontline aired a report saying that Kool Smiles inappropriately used crowns on young patients instead of regular fillings, because Medicaid bills more for crowns, and that the company pressured dentists to go along with the usage of crowns to make more money for the company.[4] Kool Smiles responded by saying that, "Dentists do not receive revenue, patient or procedure targets or scorecards."[9] Kool Smiles pointed to a study authored by presidential economist Arthur Laffer, which reviewed Texas Medicaid claims data and concluded that, in 2011, Kool Smiles charged less and performed fewer procedures, including crowns, per patient than other Medicaid dental providers in the state.[10] The company said, "Unfortunately, Frontline ignores what all dentists know – children with long-neglected dental needs require more medical care."[11]


The company says that its mission is to provide quality dental care for children and families in underserved communities. In 2011, two million patients visited Kool Smiles clinics.[12] Kool Smiles is a privately held company with over 1000 employees reported in October, 2011[13] Kool Smiles accepts all forms of insurance and payment including: employer based insurance, Medicaid, State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and TRICARE.[14]

Kool Smiles contracts with NCDR LLC, a dental service organization that provides non-clinical administrative and management support services. NCDR is privately held and invested in by Friedman Fleischer & Lowe. Kool Smiles is NCDR’s primary client.[14] NCDR, which does business as "Kool Smiles,"[15][16] has its headquarters in the same Marietta, Georgia, office suite that houses Kool Smiles. NCDR was incorporated in 2001. NCDR provides dental facilities, support staff members and dental services that are not clinical to dental clinics.[17] In a letter U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said "Records indicate that NCDR, LLC., may have a financial interest in Kool Smiles practices."[18]

Corporate affairs[edit]

The company headquarters are located in the Kool Smiles Patient Support Center in Suite 290 of the Northchase Office Park building in Marietta, Georgia, U.S., in Greater Atlanta.[19][17] At one time its headquarters were in Suite 440 of Building 400 of the Atlanta Technology Center in Atlanta.[20][21] At a later time its headquarters were in Suite 800 of the Galleria 400 building in unincorporated Cobb County.[17][22][23] In 2010 NCDR, LLC announced that it had leased 39,869-square-foot (3,704.0 m2) of space in the Northchase Office Park and that it was moving there from Galleria 400.[17]

In 2010 Kool Smiles generated $80 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). During that year the company hired Harris Williams, an investment bank, in order to sell itself.[24] The company was said to be worth $700 million.[4] As of October 4, 2010, American Securities LLC was the lead bidder.[25] The deal failed and the company was not sold.[4]


Kool Smiles has partnered with the Gary Community Health Center and the East Chicago Community Health Center to provide dental care in their facilities.[26] The company has also partnered with the Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, on his “Healthy Smiles Tour” to improve access to dental care in the state.[27]


Kool Smiles Lawsuit: (August–September 2007) After the WellCare and Peach State Medicaid networks followed through with plans to terminate Kool Smiles from their contracts, patients of Kool Smiles and another company filed a lawsuit asking for an injunction that would prevent the terminations until WellCare and the Peace State organizations would show that the ending of the contracts would not contradict Medicaid dental program requirements.[28] Kool Smiles' chief dental officer, Dr. David Strange, argued that if it lost the contract, some families in Columbus, Georgia, would be unable to receive dental care. Dr. Vanessa Downer, the West Central Health District director, stated that the City of Columbus had a full service municipal dental facility for children and that the Columbus facility would be ready to accept some Kool Smiles patients if the clinic did close.[29]

Kool Smiles remained part of the Amerigroup Medicaid network and is currently part of the Amerigroup, WellCare, and Peach State networks in Dalton and Columbus.[30]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "[1]." Kool Smiles website. Retrieved on December 17, 2013. "Dr. Tran is a founding dentist and owner of Kool Smiles, P.C."
  2. ^ a b c "HEALTH CARE." Indianapolis Business Journal. September 19, 2005. Retrieved on January 26, 2012. "The clinics accept only self-pay patients or those covered by Medicaid or Hoosier Healthwise plans. They do not take private insurance, spokeswoman Kasey Peterson said." and "The for-profit Kool Smiles started in 2002 in Decatur, Ga., and has opened six clinics in its home state."
  3. ^ a b Stirgus, Eric. "Kids all smiles at DeKalb clinic Dental center filled with toys, murals." Atlanta Journal-Constitution. November 29, 2002. D3. Retrieved on January 26, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Heath, David (Center for Public Integrity) and Jill Rosenbaum (Frontline). "Complaints About Kids Care Follow Kool Smiles." Frontline. June 26, 2012. Retrieved on August 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Williams, Dave. "Dentists going to court over Medicaid cutoff." Albany Herald. Thursday August 23, 2007. 4A. Retrieved from Google News (3 of 14) on January 26, 2012.
  6. ^ "A fight over dental care for kids is headed to court." Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wednesday August 22, 2007. Retrieved on January 26, 2012.
  7. ^ Constantine, Sandra E. "Kool Smiles greeted warmly." The Republican. Wednesday February 6, 2008. Retrieved on January 26, 2012.
  8. ^ "Where’s the protection?" (editorial) Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. August 4, 2009. Retrieved on January 26, 2012.
  9. ^ "Kool Smiles' Response." Frontline. June 26, 2012. Retrieved on August 5, 2012.
  10. ^ "Laffer: Bridging the dental divide."
  11. ^ "Frontline Forgot the Facts: Kool Smiles Responds." (Archive) Kool Smiles. June 26, 2012.
  12. ^ Freedberg, Sydney P. "Dental Abuse Seen Driven by Private Equity Investments." Bloomberg. May 17, 2012. Retrieved on September 12, 2012. "U.S. Senate investigators are examining whether ReachOut, Church Street and its affiliated clinics have overbilled Medicaid, according to Senate documents and people familiar with the matter. Another company under Senate scrutiny is NCDR LLC, which manages 130 Kool Smiles clinics, these people say."
  13. ^ "Kool Smiles inaugurates new Elkhart office to offer dental services". News Medical. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "FFL Partners, Kool Smiles". Retrieved September 9, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Company Overview of NCDR LLC." (Archive) Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved on October 1, 2012. "NCDR LLC, doing business as Kool Smiles,[...]" and "1090 Northchase Parkway SE Suite 290 Marietta, GA 30067-6407"
  16. ^ "Coughlin, John." (Archive) Reuters. Retrieved on October 1, 2012. "Mr. Coughlin served as Chief Executive Officer of NCDR LLC (dba Kool Smiles), a private equity owned national dental practice management company."
  17. ^ a b c d Sams, Douglas. "Campanile may be renamed 1155 Peachtree." Atlanta Business Journal. Monday March 22, 2010. Last modified Thursday March 18, 2010. p.4-5. Retrieved on October 1, 2012.
  18. ^ "2010-01-12-CEG-and-Baucus-to-Kool-Smiles-Corporate-Dentistry.pdf." (Archive) Office of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. Retrieved on October 1, 2012.
  19. ^ "Kool Smiles Main Contacts." (Archive) Kool Smiles. Retrieved on January 1, 2011. "Kool Smiles Patient Support Center 1090 Northchase Pkwy SE, Ste 290 Marietta, GA 30067-6407"
  20. ^ "Corporate Office." Kool Smiles. March 7, 2006. Retrieved on January 19, 2012. "Kool Smiles PC 1575 Northside Drive Building 400, Suite 440 Atlanta, GA 30318 "
  21. ^ "Directions to: The Atlanta Opera" (Archive). The Atlanta Opera. Retrieved on January 19, 2012. "[...]The Atlanta Technology Center office park (1575 Northside Dr)."
  22. ^ "Corporate Office." Kool Smiles. April 30, 2007. Retrieved on January 19, 2012. "400 Galleria Pkwy STE 800 Atlanta, GA 30339 "
  23. ^ "Vinings CDP, Georgia" (Archive). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on 19 January 2012.
  24. ^ Kosman, Josh. "Private-equity firms $ink teeth into dentistry." The New York Post. August 27, 2010. Retrieved on January 26, 2012.
  25. ^ Alesci, Cristina, Jeffrey McCracken and Jason Kelly. "American Securities Said to Be in Lead to Buy Kool Smiles Chain." (Archive) Bloomberg. Retrieved on October 1, 2012.
  26. ^ "Kool Smiles Opens Office in Partnership With East Chicago Community Health Center". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Governor Martin O'Malley Kicks Off "Healthy Smiles" Dental Tour". Retrieved September 9, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Department of Community Health, Analysis of Medicaid and Peachcare for Kids Dental Services Capacity" (PDF). November 23, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2011. 
  29. ^ Sledge, Kaffie. "Mouthful of words." Ledger-Enquirer. Thursday August 23, 2007. Retrieved on January 1, 2012.
  30. ^ "Kool Smiles patients file class-action lawsuit against care organizations". August 27, 2007. Retrieved September 7, 2011.