June 1, 2012
What we’re not going to do: We’re not going to pretend RDH readers do not know who Dr. Wilkins is.

Dr. Esther Wilkins
Boston, Massachusetts

What we’re not going to do: We’re not going to pretend RDH readers do not know who Dr. Wilkins is. This Spotlight page typically introduces the magazine’s cover model to its audience. The author of the textbook, “Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist,” needs no introduction. The 95-year-old grand matriarch of dental hygiene is staying busy. She remains a Clinical Professor at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, conducting clinical simulation-lab workshops for groups of dental students as they learn nonsurgical scaling and root planing. She also presents continuing education courses for dental hygienists around the country. During the past three years, she completed work on the 11th edition of the textbook. She filled us in on her gratitude in finishing the project and observing its recent publication, asking, “I suspect you have some familiarity with my book?” Yes, we do, and we know more than a mere handful of readers are familiar with the book too.

Not that you need another reason to be proud: There are not enough words to describe Dr. Wilkins’ role in the development of the dental hygiene profession. Her presence at dental hygiene meetings is routinely a cause for celebration for all that she has accomplished during her long career. But we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the latest reason to be proud of her. In March, she traveled to Orlando to become a recipient of the William J. Gies Awards presented by the American Dental Education Association. She received a Gies Award for achievements as a dental educator.

What color are you?: The final biography of Dr. Wilkins’ life as a pioneer in dentistry, no doubt, will be a joy to read. In the meantime, may we suggest this link to Tufts Now ( The university profiled her after the announcement about the Gies Award. What we didn’t know was that she frequently identifies what year a hygienist graduated based on the color of the textbook’s cover. Interesting reading.

Cover photography by Erik Jacobs

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