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Recipient of the 2022 Esther Wilkins Lifetime Achievement Award to Be Revealed in June

Each year, Dimensions of Dental Hygiene’s The Esther Wilkins Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a dental hygienist who has made a tremendous impact on the art and science of the profession. The award— sponsored by Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Inc.—has been honoring the highest level of achievement in the field of dental hygiene since 2011. The award’s inaugural recipient, Esther M. Wilkins, BS, RDH, DMD—the matriarch of dental hygiene—dedicated her professional life to the prevention of oral disease and the advancement of the dental hygiene profession. She passed away December 12, 2016, three days after her 100th birthday, but her legacy lives on through her textbook, her passion for dental hygiene, and the mentoring she provided to both friends and colleagues.

After earning both her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree and a postdoctoral certificate in periodontology, Wilkins set out to ensure that dental hygiene was regarded as a profession with high standards. She touched several generations of dental hygiene students with her seminal textbook, Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist, now in its 13th edition. The 13th edition of the book, under the editorship of Linda Boyd, RDH, RD, EdD; Lisa F. Mallonee, MPH, RDH, RD, LD; Charlotte J. Wyche, BSDH, MS; and Jane F. Halaris, ASDH, MA, was published in February 2020.

Wilkins began teaching at Boston’s Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1964, after completing the school’s post-doctoral program in perio dontology. Extending her reach beyond Tufts, she was also a prolific provider of continuing education for dental hygienists, presenting more than 1,000 programs worldwide through out her expansive career.

Wilkins’ dedication to dental hygiene education and commitment to improving oral health provide a lasting legacy, and her inspiration to the profession is clearly illustrated by the dental hygienists who continue to follow in her footsteps.

The 2022 recipient will be announced during a cocktail reception on June 24, 2022, during the American Dental Hygienists’ Association Annual Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. A list of the previous recipients of this prestigious award appears below (the 2020 winner was honored in 2021 due to the global pandemic).

  • 2010 Esther M. Wilkins, BS, RDH, DMD
  • 2011 Maxine Alper Tishk, RDH, MS
  • 2012 Gail N. Cross-Poline, RDH, MS
  • 2013 Michele Leonardi Darby, BSDH, MS, and Margaret Walsh, RDH,
  • MS, MA, EdD
  • 2014 Juanita S. Wallace, RDH, PhD
  • 2015 JoAnn R. Gurenlian, RDH, MS, PhD, AFAAOM
  • 2016 Pamela R. Overman, RDH, MS, EdD
  • 2017 Olga A.C. Ibsen, RDH, MS, FAADH
  • 2018 Deborah Bailey Astroth, RDH, BSDH
  • 2019 Jacquelyn L. Fried, RDH, BA, MS
  • 2020/2021 Jane L. Forrest, BSDH, MS, EdD

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. May 2022; 20(5)11.

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