Reconnecting Practicing Hygienists with the Nation's Leading Educators and Researchers.

2020/2021 Award Recipient

Jane L. Forrest, BSDH, MS, EdD

Dimensions of Dental Hygiene, the Journal of Professional Excellence, is proud to announce Jane L. Forrest, BSDH, MS, EdD, as the 2020/2021 Esther Wilkins Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. This prestigious award, which is sponsored by Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is presented each year to recognize the distinguished career of a worthy individual who has consistently and effectively contributed to the enrichment of the dental hygiene profession. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene presented The Esther Wilkins Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Forrest on June 18 at a reception during the 2021 American Dental Hygienists’ Association Annual Session in Phoenix.

Dr. Forrest has pushed the boundaries of what dental hygiene has to offer to both patients and clinicians. A professor emerita of clinical dentistry and former section chair of behavioral science at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, she is also the co-founder and director of the National Center for Dental Hygiene Research & Practice (NCDHRP). She has received several federal training grants, one of which included developing the NCDHRP and another on integrating evidence-based decision making (EBDM) into curricula. Dr. Forrest’s impact on the profession is long-lasting as the inclusion of EBDM into dental hygiene education has significantly changed the practice of the profession. Through the NCDHRP’s four global dental hygiene research conferences, dental hygienists from around the world have been able to share their research outcomes, provide hands-on training in different areas of research, and offer networking opportunities for novice and future dental hygiene researchers.


  • 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
  • 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

Esther M. Wilkins, BS, RDH, DMD

Honoring an Enduring Legacy

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 post-doctoral certificate in periodontology, Dr. 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 12th edition. She came up with the idea for a dental hygiene textbook while serving as the founding director of the dental hygiene program at the University of Washington (UW) School of Dentistry in Seattle. Essentially, the book was an enhanced compilation of the student handouts that ­Dr. Wilkins and her teaching staff had created since the program’s inception. In the fall of 1958, H.L. Hudson, a representative of the publishing company Lea & Febiger, paid his annual visit to UW’s Department of Dental Hygiene. Dr. Wilkins showed him the student manual. He turned the pages of the thick, heavy handbook, and finally looked up and said, “We should publish this,” to which Dr. Wilkins replied, “I think that is a very good idea.” He then asked if she could have it ready for that fall. Dr. Wilkins later said, “Little did I realize that therein was the beginning of the rest of my life.” The 12th edition of Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist was published in March 2016. The book will continue publication under the editorship of Linda Boyd, RDH, RD, EdD, of the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene at MCPHS University in Boston.

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

In 2004, Dr. Wilkins’ alma mater, the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, now part of MCPHS University in Boston, opened a state-of-the-art dental hygiene clinic in her name—the Esther M. Wilkins Forsyth Dental Hygiene Clinic. In February 2012, she was honored with the American Dental Education Association’s William J. Gies Award for Achievement, Dental Educator.

Dr. 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.

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