Rear Admiral Timothy L. Ricks Receives 2021 American Dental Association Distinguished Service Award
The American Dental Association (ADA) has recognized Rear Admiral Timothy L. Ricks, DMD, with its ADA Distinguished Service Award at ADA SmileCon in Las Vegas. The award is the highest honor given by the ADA Board of Trustees.
After 20 years of public health service, Ricks is considered the nation’s top oral health official, serving as chief dental officer for the U.S. Public Health Service, along with his full-time role as the deputy director of the Indian Health Service (IHS) Division of Oral Health.
“I enjoy the interconnectedness of health in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), where dentists work in partnership with physicians, nurses, engineers, dieticians, environmental health officers, scientists and others to carry out the mission of their respective agencies and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” said Ricks.
In his role as chief dental officer, Ricks advises the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the recruitment, assignment, deployment, retention and career development of oral health professionals. He is also responsible for overseeing the development of the second-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health, as well as chairs the USPHS Oral Health Coordinating Committee.
Additionally, Ricks serves in numerous national roles within the IHS, including continuing dental education coordinator, expanded function dental assistant coordinator, national IHS oral health promotion/disease prevention consultant, oral health surveillance coordinator, dental lead for the Government Performance and Results Act, and as IHS representative to the Healthy People 2020/2030 Oral Health Workgroup. He has carried out national public health initiatives, including the IHS Early Childhood Caries Collaborative, the IHS Periodontal Treatment Initiative, the ongoing IHS national oral health surveillance program, among others.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Ricks’ leadership has been vital in supporting dentists and patients by helping to convene public-private partnership meetings to allow for exchange of information and collaborative thoughts around infection control and other pandemic-related recommendations. The group now includes 50 dental organizations and representatives from 11 federal agencies.
Ricks, who serves in the ADA House of Delegates, is also a board-certified diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health, a fellow of the International College of Dentists and the American College of Dentists, and a Santa Fe Group scholar.
“This award has been a highlight of my career, and I’m humbled by the recognition,” added Ricks. “I am fortunate to have had so many people around me to mentor me, serve with me, and serve with such passion to make my career so rewarding.”