Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Drs. Joya and Andrew Lyons


The husband-and-wife team behind Charlotte’s Smile Savvy Cosmetic Dentistry, which has 2,500 patients and a partnership with the Charlotte Hornets, has a simple formula.   

“I jump off the bridge, she packs the parachute,” says
Andrew Lyons of his wife, Joya Lyons. They complement each other: Andrew is a visionary and Joya is detail-oriented. The dental practice focuses on smile makeovers — whitening, veneers, straightening and similar services. Beyond the makeovers, the business is built on entrepreneurship, faith and community service, with strong currents of ethnic pride.

“We have patients of all backgrounds and ethnicities that travel here to see us, so that speaks well of how we compete,” says Drew Lyons. “But as African Americans, we — dentists —  only make up about 3% of our profession. I didn’t even know I wanted to be a dentist until I met an African American dentist. Now, we want to uphold that tradition.”

Their resumes reflect that. Both are products of HBCUs. Joya Lyons graduated from Hampton University and Drew Lyons from N.C. Central University. The Meharry Medical College graduates met at the Nashville school, where they discovered mutual religious underpinnings.  “We pray about every decision we make,” says Joya. 

Since its inception in 2014, Smile Savvy has transformed from a general dentistry to a cosmetic practice. The pandemic took a heavy toll not only on elective medical and dental procedures, but sports as well. A public-relations firm suggested contacting the Charlotte Hornets. 

“They were talking about fan engagement, and how to get fans back into the stadium and how to get everybody back in good spirits,” says Drew. After the Hornets suggested an official partnership, Smile Savvy began giveaways and promotions. “It’s been a very fruitful relationship so far.”

Professionals of color, whether physicians, dentists, ministers, lawyers or others, have traditionally been community pillars, often at the helm of civil-rights pushes. The Lyonses carry on that tradition.

Since 2019, the couple has offered The Lyons Share, a program in which four people from underserved communities are brought in annually for cosmetic overhauls. In 2017, Joya began SCORE, an acronym for Successful, Confident, Optimistic, Regal and Engaging. The program encourages teen girls to seek careers in medicine, science, technology, engineering and math.

“One thing we’ve been able to do is to place girls in doctors’ offices for the summer,” she says. “We’ve seen incredible success with that.”

After nearly nine years in business, the couple says one principle overrides others at Smile Savvy.

“God is the center of everything we do, every decision we make,” says Joya Lyons.

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