5 Questions With … Dr. Tawana K. Lee-Ware


Tawana K. Lee-Ware, D.D.S., M.S.D.
Pediatric Dentist
Diplomate, American Board of Pediatric Dentists
Adjunct Assistant Professor - Pediatric Dentistry
Indiana University School of Dentistry

1. What makes you excited to go to work each day?

Being a board-certified pediatric dentist is a dream come true so I’m already excited to live out that dream every day. Now that I have worked over 17 years in the profession—having served in academia, public health and the private sector—I remain excited by the dynamic of my practice (no two days are the same) and the privilege of providing top-quality dental care to the families and children I serve. Striving to do my part in addressing health disparities and advancing racial equity fuel my daily professional journey.

2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed dental education?

COVID impacted every aspect of dental education from lecture delivery, patient care, to mechanisms for addressing mental health. My hope is that we do not ignore that COVID exposed necessary changes to address a post-COVID world. We should explore how we can take advantage of this moment to accelerate innovative approaches to curriculum and content development and delivery that could address some of the health disparities and systemic racism that exists in health care. Today, dental education leaders are tasked with implementing creative outcomes-based strategies to address these challenges.

3. If you couldn’t be in dental education, what field would you have chosen for a career?

If I weren’t already living my dream as a pediatric dentist and educator, I would have loved a shot at Broadway. I was an avid musical theater and show choir kid in junior high and high school, competing on stages from New York City to Magic Music Days at Disney. I have a great appreciation for the sacrifices these artists make for their craft. Now, I must settle cheering on my nephew, who is a Broadway and now TV actor.

4. If you could be in any movie, what part would you want to play?

After just watching The Woman King, I’d definitely want to play the lead role as a Shero warrior like the Dahomey in this film, or the Dora Milaje, also based on the Dahomey all-women military who were depicted in The Black Panther movie. I’d want to portray a meaningful character with depth, courage, grace and power. Of course, I’d do my own stunts and fight scenes because that’s the best part!

5. What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m from the Mississippi Delta and spent time as a reporter for a local newspaper prior to dental school. I enjoy exploring different cultures through travel and love adventure. From bungee jumping, swimming with sting rays, to off-road, night safaris in South Africa, if it’s fun and exciting—sign me up!