Programs + Partnerships

University of Alabama Birmingham

University of Alabama Birmingham

The UAB Smiles for Alabama Initiative was launched as a pilot project that aimed to change the behaviors and attitudes of health professionals trained at UAB in order to address unmet oral health care needs for underserved populations in the state.  In the planning year of the OH2014 grant, the initiative’s main accomplishments included (1) working with a panel of curriculum experts from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Dentistry to review and accept the Smiles for Life curriculum for the pilot and for development of an interprofessional training module for the school-based dental and health screening exams, and (2) performing health and dental screenings and dental follow-up and referrals at partner-identified schools and day care centers for over 80 children, many of whom would not otherwise receive necessary dental care.

UAB SOD will work with new and existing partners to continue establishing a sustainable framework for interprofessional training to develop the oral health knowledge of health care providers so that they know how to collaborate with other health professionals to treat and refer patients appropriately, thereby strengthening the dental public health infrastructure at the state and local levels. UAB SOD also plans to continue its interprofessional training with health and dental screenings of children and geriatric populations.

Vision of Impact Statement

The project’s vision is to establish the framework for interprofessional training that can be sustained over time to produce health care practitioners in Alabama with a basic understanding of oral health and its importance. These practitioners will understand how to work together in health teams to provide optimal care to their patients and know when to refer patients to their colleagues in a different health profession.

Goals of this Collaborative

Project Goals and Partners

Strategic Lever


Critical Partners

Medical-dental collaboration


Interprofessional collaboration

Double the number of UAB health professional schools, namely the  School of Optometry and the School of Health Professions, participating in Smiles for Alabama interprofessional training and adopting the Smiles for Life curriculum.


Increase by 50 percent the number of health professional students completing Smiles for Life training and participating in clinical interprofessional health screenings.


Prevention and public health infrastructure


Improving the oral health of Alabama children

Double the number of children in Alabama who receive oral health screenings in child care and school-based settings by health professional students who have completed the Smiles for Life curriculum.


Strengthening the next generation of healthcare providers

Ensure that participating UAB health professional graduates can work collaboratively, make appropriate referrals, and provide high-quality health and oral health screenings in interprofessional health care teams.


Reducing barriers to oral health

Broaden the project scope to include clinical interprofessional training, education, and patient evaluation, in geriatrics through collaboration with the Interprofessional Clinical Experience (ICE)/Fair Haven project.


Expected Changes

  • More health professional students complete the Smiles for Life training and participate in head-to-toe screenings at SSA/KidCheck events to identify unmet oral health needs.
  • More children with oral health needs are identified and receive follow-up dental care when necessary, utilizing UAB SOD and other dental providers in the Smiles for Alabama provider network.
  • UAB health professional students and graduates have increased knowledge, comfort, and skills to conduct health screenings and include oral health screening in their clinical practices.
  • Health professional students have increased knowledge of and experience with the oral health needs and treatment barriers for older adults, another population that is often underserved in Alabama.