Skip Navigation This page features a timed image rotator. If you would like to disable it, press enter now. Skip to Footer Links
About Us

    New Delta Dental of Massachusetts Chair of Public Health and Community Service Named at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

    Delta Dental’s $5M endowment of named chair enables dedicated leadership and focus in public health dentistry during pandemic

    Delta Dental of Massachusetts is pleased to welcome Dr. Athanasios Zavras as the new Delta Dental of Massachusetts Endowed Chair for the Department of Public Health and Community Service at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. Delta Dental of Massachusetts has supported the named chair position at Tufts since 2006, when it created a $5 million endowment to support public health dentistry and local community engagement.

    “Over the last two years, we have seen a significant increase in enrollment and applicants for public health programs,” said Professor Zavras, an epidemiologist and pediatric dentist. “Tufts is a leader in increasing access to oral health for those in our community who need it most. I look forward to continuing to grow the program and increase training opportunities for the next generation of providers in public health dentistry.” 

    Low-income and minority populations, including individuals with disabilities, victims of violence, and those who are elderly or homeless, are less likely to have access to adequate dental care and are at high-risk for dental and oral diseases that, in turn, create additional health problems. 

    “Delta Dental of Massachusetts has been proud to support this endowment for more than 15 years,” said Dennis Leonard, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Massachusetts. “We know that oral health is directly linked to overall health, and that has become especially apparent during the pandemic. I look forward to working with Dr. Zavras and believe that his leadership and vision will reinvigorate this new era in public health dentistry and help improve oral health for all in our communities.”

    As interest and awareness in public health, including oral health, has increased during the pandemic, Zavras’ efforts will focus on leveraging technology to improve and integrate coordination of care in Massachusetts communities. This includes:

    ●    Integrating oral health with overall health care at Tufts. Zavras aims to increase partnerships between the Tufts dental school, medical school and community services schools and design research and training around interdisciplinary models of care.

    ●    Improving coordination and care for patients with disabilities. Tufts remains focused on increasing clinical opportunities for students to develop the competency and confidence to care for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Zavras plans to create digital communication tools for parents to help share their child’s care records and modification needs ahead of time, to allow for more person-centered care and an improved chance of success at the patient’s first visit.

    In addition to the gift to establish the Delta Dental Chair of Public Health in 2006, Delta Dental of Massachusetts also made two gifts to establish the Delta Dental of Massachusetts Endowment in Public Health and the Delta Dental of Massachusetts Equipment Fund. This investment helped support the adoption of the Axium electronic health record system at Tufts Dental Facilities (TDF), which provide comprehensive dental care for adults and children with developmental disabilities living in Massachusetts, and led to significant growth in the program.

    ●    Leveraging electronic medical records for more integrated care. The initial Delta Dental endowment called for the merging of electronic records across all Tufts dental practices. Since implementing Axium software solution, TDF has seen 13,577 unique patients, with an annual average of 7,300 prior to the pandemic. 

    ●    Joining the Big Mouth Initiative. The investment in Axium has enabled Tufts to join the Big Mouth Initiative — a consortium of dental schools that share digital records in a centralized data repository to inform evidence-based practices.

    ●    Supporting educational experiences for clinical students. The TDF program has provided rotational experience to 2,700+ fourth-year dental students and 100+ post graduate residents since 2009, allowing them to receive firsthand experience servicing populations with special needs.

    About Delta Dental of Massachusetts
    Delta Dental of Massachusetts (, the largest provider of dental benefits in the state, is a leader in innovative programs that improve the overall health of members, prevent oral disease and reduce health care costs for employers, groups and individuals. Headquartered in Charlestown, Mass., Delta Dental of Massachusetts, a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association (, covers more than 2 million people. Follow us on Twitter (@DeltaDentalofMA), Facebook (, and Instagram (@deltadentalofma).