Dr. Thomas S. Underwood has spent more than three decades providing humanitarian service to people in need of dental care.
Dr. Underwood first volunteered overseas. He spent a month—including Christmas Eve 1975—volunteering in a dental clinic in an Israeli kibbutz. Only five years out of dental school at that time, young Dr. Underwood felt compelled to serve and his humanitarian calling took him around the globe for nearly 20 years to volunteer in places from Jamaica and Honduras to Kenya and Zambia.
“Then I realized how many people in my own state had worse oral health than the people I was treating outside the United States,” said Dr. Underwood. “So I thought we ought to do something right here, in a setting where we could follow up with patients and offer comprehensive dental care.”
With support from the Nashville Dental Society and the outreach commission of the West End United Methodist Church, Dr. Underwood founded the Nashville Interfaith Dental Clinic in 1994. The clinic’s original home was in the church’s basement.
“In the past 13 years, thanks to Dr. Underwood’s passion and commitment, Interfaith Dental Clinic has grown from a small, part-time clinic located in a church basement to a dental program that owns its own 7,500 sq. ft. facility, has 35 employees, uses more than 250 volunteers, and provides comprehensive, affordable dental care to more than 1,200 patients each year,” said Interfaith Dental Clinic CEO Dr. Rhonda Switzer-Nadasdi.
Since the 1990s, Dr. Underwood has worked with state legislators and TennCare oversight committee members to develop the dental care model that now has more than 850 dentists statewide treating TennCare children—more than 660,000 enrollees from birth to age 20 since it launched in October 2002. The program has been recognized nationally as a model program for other states. Today, Dr. Underwood remains an active board member and practicing dentist.
Our Board of Directors serves a vital purpose here at Interfaith Dental Clinic. Each of our members offers their services to us in the spirit of helping us build smiles, one patient at a time.
Strategic Planning Manager, CAT Financial
Dr. Arthur Anderson
Assistant Metro Attorney, Metro Government
Director Sales & Marketing, Nashville Dental Inc.
Strategic Planning, HCA
Dr. Chip Clayton
Young Leaders Council Intern
George Crawford - Board Chair
Attorney, Butler Snow
Dr. Spalding Green
Dr. Annie Jones
Senior Vice President, Chase Hawkins Company
Dr. Jaime Romero
National Sales, nextDoc Solutions
Dr. Bernard Turner
Professor of Social Entrepreneurship, Belmont University
Dr. Tom Underwood - Lifetime Member
Dr. Gloria Bonner
Middle Tennessee State University
Dr. Alex Hollis
Dr. Kim Pitts, D.D.S.
Dr. David Sain, D.D.S.
Dr. Jess Sinquefield, D.D.S
Dr. Roy Thompson, D.D.S.