Kool Smiles

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Kool Smiles, PC
FoundedEast Lake, Atlanta, U.S. in 2002
FounderDr. Tu Tran, Dr. Thien Pham[1]
Number of locations
Area served
United States
OwnerDr. Tu Tran[1]
Kool Smiles Houston-Aldine dental clinic in unincorporated Harris County, Texas

Kool Smiles is a dental services provider, based in the United States. Its headquarters are in the Kool Smiles Patient Support Center in Marietta, Georgia, U.S., in Greater Atlanta and has over 100 offices located across sixteen states.[2]

Kool Smiles operates dental clinics located in low-income communities. Kool Smiles positions itself as a general dentistry that treats both children and adults.[3] The company recruits for general dentists, pediatric dentists, endodontists and oral surgeons.[4]

Kool Smiles provides preventative care, diagnostic imaging and restorative care supported by electronic health records, as well as the free curriculum on oral health and dental care.[5]


In August 2002, the first Kool Smiles location opened in East Lake, Atlanta, in DeKalb County,[6] near the city of Decatur.[2] The clinic only accepted patients on Medicaid and PeachCare, Georgia's state insurance program.[6] Brown said "The demand for service was unbelievable. These kids had nowhere to go for years and years."[7] Brown said that originally they planned to open ten to fifteen clinics.[7]

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.[8] Around that year, it served 71,000 children annually at its Georgia clinics.[9] In 2008, the chain had about 40 clinics in seven U.S. states.[10] In 2009 it operated 84 clinics in the entire United States.[11]

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 an injunction that would prevent the terminations until WellCare and the Peach State organizations would show that the ending of the contracts would not contradict Medicaid dental program requirements.[12] 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. Kool Smiles remained part of the Amerigroup Medicaid network and later resumed participation in the WellCare and Peach State Medicaid networks. Kool Smiles currently participates in all of the Medicaid networks in Georgia.[13]

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.[14] The company was said to be worth $700 million.[7] As of October 4, 2010, American Securities LLC was the lead bidder.[15] The deal failed and the company was not sold.[7]

Kool Smiles has partnered with the Gary Community Health Center and the East Chicago Community Health Center to provide dental care in their facilities.[16] 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.[17]

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.[7] Frontline later admitted their analysis showed that Kool Smiles in fact provided 25% fewer crowns per patient (2.1 vs. 2.8) than the average dentist.[18] Kool Smiles responded by saying that, "Dentists do not receive revenue, patient or procedure targets or scorecards."[19] 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.[20] The company said, "Unfortunately, Frontline ignores what all dentists know – children with long-neglected dental needs require more medical care."[21] Later it was revealed Frontline had used a former employee as their "whistleblower" who was a convicted felon, who was suing the company after being terminated for falsifying documents.[22]

Slate ran a feature about dental care in Alabama during 2015, explaining that the work by companies such as Kool Smiles was assisting with assisting some of the poorest children in the country with their dental care.[23] Around the same time, a number of studies were carried out regarding the adoption of Dental Service Organizations for many states. As one of the leading providers of DSOs in the United States, Kool Smiles' statistics were regularly quoted during this period. The result of regular care through DSOs meant that Kool Smiles' patients had an overall average monthly Medicaid expenditure that was 33% lower than non-Kool Smiles patients and that Kool Smiles providers perform 15 percent fewer procedures per patient.[24]

In January 2018, Kool Smiles agreed to pay $23.9 million to settle Medicaid fraud charges. The federal government alleged that the company filed false claims for unneeded dental procedures performed on children, including tooth removals, pulpotomies, and installing stainless steel crowns. The company was also accused of billing for services it did not actually render.[25]

Business & Services[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.[26][27] At one time its headquarters were in Suite 440 of Building 400 of the Atlanta Technology Center in Atlanta.[28][29] At a later time its headquarters were in Suite 800 of the Galleria 400 building in unincorporated Cobb County.[27][30][31]

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.[32] Kool Smiles is a privately held company with over 1000 employees reported in October, 2011[33]

Kool Smiles has provided more than $100 million in free care to poor children and their families since 2005.[34] May 15, 2016 is "Sharing Smiles Day,"[2] the annual day on which Kool Smiles locations offer free care to uninsured children under the age of 18.[3][4][5][6]


During 2008, Kool Smiles treated 18,000 children in the Georgia area, whose families had no medical insurance. The check-ups came as part of a government initiative, with the treatment being the first dental treatment the children had received in many cases. By 2011, two million patients visited Kool Smiles clinics.[32]

As part of Kool Smiles' work in South Carolina, the percentage of Medicaid-enrolled children receiving dental services increased from 46.9 percent to 51.9 percent. The statistics were announced in 2011 when the dental practice opened its seventh clinic in the state.[35]

A study conducted in 2015 by Dobson DaVanzo concluded states could save more than $550 million annually in Medicaid expenditures provided care as conservatively as Kool Smiles,[36] which does 25% fewer services at a 37% lower cost than others providing care to the same patient population.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "[1]." Kool Smiles. Retrieved on December 17, 2013. "Dr. Tran is a founding dentist and owner of Kool Smiles, P.C."
  2. ^ a b c "Find Dental Positions Near You - Kool Smiles Jobs". www.koolsmilesjobs.com.
  3. ^ "Kool Smiles | Knowledge Base". Kool Smiles: We will help you find a local Kool Smiles general dentist for kids and adults, who accepts Medicaid, Tricare, SCHIP and most insurance. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  4. ^ "Find Dental Positions Near You - Kool Smiles Jobs". www.koolsmilesjobs.com. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  5. ^ "Quality Care Should be Accessible to All: Expanding Access through Innovation and Employing Mid-level Providers in the Medical and Dental Fields" (PDF). National Minority Quality Forum.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b c d e 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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "A fight over dental care for kids is headed to court." Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wednesday, August 22, 2007. Retrieved on January 26, 2012.
  10. ^ Constantine, Sandra E. "Kool Smiles greeted warmly." The Republican. Wednesday, February 6, 2008. Retrieved on January 26, 2012.
  11. ^ "Where’s the protection?" (editorial) Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. August 4, 2009. Retrieved on January 26, 2012.
  12. ^ "Department of Community Health, Analysis of Medicaid and Peachcare for Kids Dental Services Capacity" (PDF). November 23, 2009. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  13. ^ "Kool Smiles patients file class-action lawsuit against care organizations". August 27, 2007. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  14. ^ Kosman, Josh. "Private-equity firms $ink teeth into dentistry." The New York Post. August 27, 2010. Retrieved on January 26, 2012.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Kool Smiles Opens Office in Partnership With East Chicago Community Health Center". Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  17. ^ "Governor Martin O'Malley Kicks Off "Healthy Smiles" Dental Tour". Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  18. ^ "Kool Smiles' Response". FRONTLINE. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  19. ^ "Kool Smiles' Response." Frontline. June 26, 2012. Retrieved on August 5, 2012.
  20. ^ "Laffer: Bridging the dental divide."
  21. ^ "Frontline Forgot the Facts: Kool Smiles Responds." (Archived October 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine) Kool Smiles. June 26, 2012.
  22. ^ "PBS Defends Use of Convicted Felon as Expert on Documentary". Media Research Center. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  23. ^ Thomas, June (January 6, 2015). "Disrupting Dentistry". Slate.
  24. ^ "New study: Medicaid dental programs in 7 states could save $550 million annually through adoption of a DSO model". Dentistry IQ. February 5, 2016.
  25. ^ "Kool Smiles dental clinics settle federal fraud charges". Greenville News. January 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "Kool Smiles Main Contacts." (Archived February 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine) Kool Smiles. Retrieved on January 1, 2011. "Kool Smiles Patient Support Center 1090 Northchase Pkwy SE, Ste 290 Marietta, GA 30067-6407"
  27. ^ a b 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.
  28. ^ "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 "
  29. ^ "Directions to: The Atlanta Opera" (Archived 2012-01-19 at WebCite). The Atlanta Opera. Retrieved on January 19, 2012. "[...]The Atlanta Technology Center office park (1575 Northside Dr)."
  30. ^ "Corporate Office." Kool Smiles. April 30, 2007. Retrieved on January 19, 2012. "400 Galleria Pkwy STE 800 Atlanta, GA 30339 "
  31. ^ "Vinings CDP, Georgia" (Archive). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on 19 January 2012.
  32. ^ a b 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."
  33. ^ "Kool Smiles inaugurates new Elkhart office to offer dental services". News Medical. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  34. ^ Smiles, Kool. "Leading Children's Medicaid Dental Provider Surpasses $100 Million in Uncompensated Care for Uninsured Patients". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  35. ^ "Kool Smiles dentistry marks grand opening". The Times and Democrat. December 28, 2011.
  36. ^ "New study: Medicaid dental programs in 7 states could save $550 million annually through adoption of a DSO model". www.dentistryiq.com. Retrieved 2016-07-12.
  37. ^ "Laffer: Research reinforces upside of DSO model". DrBicuspid.com. Retrieved 2016-07-12.

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