Award winners walk in the footsteps of Lucy Hobbs

Lucy Hobbs Project Industry Icon Award recipient Dr. Esther M. Wilkins with Benco Dental Business Innovation Coordinator Amanda Ankner.

Though in 1950 she had never taught a class, except Sunday school, Massachusetts native Dr. Esther Wilkins was willing to venture to the Pacific Northwest and lead the first eight students enrolled in the dental hygiene program in Washington.


As keynote speaker for the Lucy Hobbs Project Annual Celebration in June, Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy, will describe her journey of fearless leadership as a pioneer in military aviation.

Not garden-variety courage.

It seems apt that The Lucy Hobbs Project® lauds Dr. Wilkins, 98, as one eight Exemplary Members in the Dental Community during its annual celebration, to be held June 4 and 5 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Also serendipitous that some of Dr. Wilkins’ contributions are housed at the National Museum of Dentistry, which will host the two-day event’s opening reception.

As keynote speaker for the June event, Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy, will describe her journey of fearless leadership as a pioneer in military aviation.  Her story serves as another contemporary parallel to Lucy Hobbs, who, in 1866, became the first American female to earn a degree in dentistry. Dr. Hobbs was denied access to education based on her gender, but persevered to learn dentistry through apprenticeship, and eventually graduated from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery.

Powered by Benco Dental, The Lucy Hobbs Project is a national, long-term program based on three pillars – networking, innovating and giving back.  Named after Hobbs, this project aims to bring women together from all facets of the dental industry – dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, receptionists, sales representatives and others. The project is free to join and offers networking opportunities, education programs and charitable events.

Its annual celebration takes the opportunity to honor eight pioneers for change, those who in some way have helped lead the charge for women in dentistry and embody the project goals. Among this year’s Lucy Hobbs Award recipients are seven unique women and one man, whose unwavering professional dedication merits accolades:


Luz Marina Aguirre, DMD


Nathan Cox

  • Luz Marina Aguirre, DMD, Assistant Professor of Dental Medicine at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in NY, NY, leads by example as faculty advisor for the student chapter of the Hispanic Dental Association. As president of the New York chapter ofthe Association, she personally dedicates herself to the reduction of oral health disparities.
  • Nathan Cox, Dixie Regional Manager for Benco Dental, says he feels honored that three Lucy Hobbs Project award recipients have hailed from his part of the world in that number of years. The six-year associate from Huntstville, Alabama appreciates Dr. Hobbs for her underdog status, “She did something no one believed she could do.”
  • Lindsay D. Limbaugh, DMD, MS, a Board Certified Orthodontist, partners in a two-location practice in Huntsville, Alabama. In between implementing treatment innovations professionally, the Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics encourages the next generation, hosting Girl Scouts at her office — even leading a campaign to create a “Dental Awareness” badge.

Lindsay D. Limbaugh, DMD, MS


BB Maboby Bahadarakhann

  • BB Maboby Bahadarakhann, who dedicates her life to providing services to those in desperate need of oral health assistance, founded SmileOnU in 2013, while working as an oral surgery representative. Born in a refugee camp in Thailand and raised in Chicago, Illinois, BB lives today in Newport Beach, California, where through her nonprofit organization she is able to rebuild smiles in the Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles counties.
  • Kealy Akin, a Territory Representative from the Dixie Region in Nashville, Tennessee, says that as a working mom of two she gains inspiration daily from female customers who are running successful practices while balancing busy home lives. In just under two years with Benco Dental she has spearheadedseveral Lucy Hobbs Project initiatives in her area.


Kealy Akin

Kealy Akin

  • Amanda Seay, DDS, channeled her early affinity for the arts into a focus on restorative dentistry at the private practice she owns in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Dr. Seay’s family emigrated from Vietnam to the U.S., where she was bornshortly afterward. The challenges that accompanied only served to ignite her thirst for education. As a clinical instructor and Key Opinion Leader for dental companies involved with the beta testing on new products and materials, she continues that quest.
  • Kendra S. Schaefer, DMD, returned to her Midwest roots after graduating from, teaching at and practicing at the prestigious Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. As one of the few Maxillofacial Prosthodontists in the Midwest, she utilizes her expanded skill set to provide treatment in her private practice in Madison, Wisconsin. Schaefer continues to share her talents by giving back locally and internationally with Operation Smile, Medical Ministry International and the Academy of Prosthodontics Outreach Program for Native Americans.
  • Seay_2224

    Amanda Seay, DDS


    Kendra S. Schaefer, DMD

  • Esther Wilkins, BS, RDH, DMD, credits the fortitude her hardworking mother and mentor sister gave her to accomplish what she needed to do with her life. She devised a program of study and created mimeographed handouts that evolved into an up-to-date textbook for the profession of dental hygiene.  The textbook has been used around the world and translated into several languages.  Today, when not working on its 12th edition, Dr. Wilkins shares knowledge amassed throughout a legendary career with students at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where she graduated in 1949.
  • Yet another inspirational woman in dentistry will greet participants in the form of North Carolina practitioner Dr. Desiree Walker, who originally competed in 2014 on the NBC television show American Ninja Warrior and was recently invited back for its seventh season, which was shot at Universal Studios, Orlando in May.
  • Throughout the celebration, attendees will be hosted to events at the National Museum of Dentistry and Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards, including a Continuing Education opportunity, courtesy of Benco Dental and event sponsors: Kavo Kerr Group and P&G Crest + Oral B.
  • Continuing Education credits will be awarded, at no cost to attendees, via a presentation  “Overcoming Life’s Goliaths and the Power of Vision,” led by Motivational Speaker Dave Weber.  In lieu of a fee to attend this event, attendees are asked to bring an article of in-season interview appropriate apparel to donate to the Dress for Success organization.

Science needs your bacteria

Bad breath? Cavities? Gum Disease? Learn about the 700 kinds of bacteria in your mouth. This The uBiome Team pitch on crowdfunding site poses questions such as “Why do some people get cavities and not others? What causes bad breath?” in the hopes that curious folk inspired by science will support its research with the purchase of a $79 dental genome kit, among other options.

For your donation, they’ll send you a collection kit, which includes everything needed to sample your dental microbiome. Dental what? (The dental micro biome — bacteria in the mouth — has been linked to dental diseases such as periodontal disease, gingivitis, dental caries, and can even indicate more systemic ailments indirectly.)

With $32,802 raised by 150 people in 25 days, they are off to a solid start.

The uBiome Team suggests other ways you can help:

  • Post a photo of your teeth, bacteria, or anything uBiome related with the hashtag #uBiomeDental on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. They will pick weekly winners of “awesome uBiome schwag.”
  • Get your dentist involved. Tell her or him about the campaign and how uBiome is trying to revolutionize dental health. Buy him/her a kit to say thank you for all those root canals and fillings.


The Ninja Dentist is back.

Dr. Desiree Walker has a firm grasp on the competition, literally.

The Lumberton, North Carolina dentist made her national-television debut on American Ninja Warrior, NBC’s extreme-obstacle challenge, which aired in June of 2014.

Incisal Edge dental lifestyle magazine interviewed Dr. Desiree Walker regarding her American Ninja Warrior debut.

Incisal Edge dental lifestyle magazine interviewed Dr. Desiree Walker regarding her American Ninja Warrior debut.

The 35-year-0ld’s nemesis back then: her faltering grip on a rope, which led to what has been called by the show’s co-host Jenn Brown, “one of the most epic falls in the history of American Ninja Warrior.”

Invited back to compete in the seventh season (filming May 10 and 11 at Universal Studios in Orlando), Dr. Walker joked in an interview today with, “I’m seeking revenge on the course.”

The lifelong fitness enthusiast demonstrates that in her audition video, which she shares with loyal Flossers.

In addition to installing a rope climb in her private workout space at her practice, Dr. Walker is devoting the same level of commitment to her training regimen as she does to her dental patients.

“I have built more training obstacles – quintuple steps which I have stationed the parking lot of my practice – to train at lunch and after work- as well as get staff involved in the fun!” she said.

While everyone can view the Ninja Dentist’s performance on the big screen, members of the Lucy Hobbs Project® will have an opportunity to meet her in person.

Dr. Walker will be in the spotlight again this summer as she takes the stage to inspire attendees as a guest speaker during the The Lucy Hobbs Project® Annual Celebration Honoring Exemplary Members in the Dental Community. Hosted by Benco Dental on June 4 and 5 in Baltimore, Maryland, the awards, named for Dr. Hobbs, who, in 1866, became the first American female to earn a degree in dentistry, will be presented to eight honorees who help lead the charge for women in dentistry and embody the project goals.

“I’m so very excited to represent the dental community and female empowerment,” said Dr. Walker.


Dental company finds creative ways to #giveback

Benco Dental creates enthusiasm among associates using social media posts of community outreach efforts.

Posts on a business Facebook page as well as Twitter and Instagram show employees involved in community events such as walks for charities. This shows Benco Dental “cares and wants to give back” and also lets others know how they can get involved, said Rachel Pugh, spokeswoman for the largest privately-owned dental distribution in the nation.

Benco Dental, headquartered in Centerpoint Commerce and Trade Park in Pittston, Pennsylvania,  frequently uses social media to benefit charities or promote its involvement in the community and was spotlighted with several businesses in a story by DeniseAllabaugh @CVAllabaugh about the win-win of give back efforts.

“We want the local public to know we care about our community,” she said. “People who follow us and within our own company can see how enjoyable it is to be part of your community.”


PRO-SYS donates a toothbrush for every one sold. One of three organizations it supports is Headstart America’s free preschool for the less fortunate. Head Start has served 30 million children since being founded in 1965. Each morning at Head Start, kids start their day off right by brushing their teeth with their friends.

Chuck and Rick Cohen serve as managing directors of the family business Benco Dental, which donates five percent of its profits annually to charities such as the United Way, Head Start and the National Foundation of Dentistry.

Benco Dental also benefits charities through its oral health care line PRO-SYS’ social media and the Lucy Hobbs Project® that empowers women in dentistry to drive change and deliver success through networking, innovation and giving back,  Pugh said.

“I think the power of social media shows its strength when it inspires others to do good as well,” she said. “It can really start a powerful positive snowball effect. The results are a win-win for everyone, both business and community.”

Additionally, Pugh said using social media to show Benco Dental’s community impact is good for employee growth.

“When people are looking for a new career and a new place to work, they see Benco Dental gives them a lot of opportunity to get involved and that’s attractive to people.” she said. “It was attractive to me when I saw how Benco was so involved in the community.”


Coiffed for a cause, Paul Devine supports the Think Pink event @bencodental.

Florence Marchesano, talent specialist for Benco Dental who oversees the company’s Community Boosters group, also uses “SharePoint,” internal social media sites, to post photos of employees volunteering at community events to stir up support. They use hashtags like #fundraisers and #giveback.

They participate in the United Way’s annual Day of Caring event; they have packed food for the Commission on Economic Opportunity and volunteered to help the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and Ruth’s Place women’s homeless shelter.


Benco Dental Events & Travel Team were among volunteers at the Commission on Economic Opportunity Food Bank preparing packages for pre-Thanksgiving distribution. Shown, Benco’s Lindsay Pross and Amy Vissotski with CEO’s King Adjei-Frimpong.

“It’s our culture here to donate and volunteer,” she said. “Benco benefits in that we’re working together and it gives us a way to be with other associates outside of work.”

To learn about other creative social media methods businesses use to benefit charities read on at:

These researchers won’t let a little saliva stand in their way.

Farnesol is released from the nanoparticle carriers into cavity-causing dental plaque. (Image: Michael Osadciw/U of Rochester)

Therapeutic agents (think mouthwash or toothpaste) intended to reduce dental plaque and prevent tooth decay are often removed by saliva and the act of swallowing before they can take effect. But a team of researchers has developed a way to keep the drugs from being washed away.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and the University of Rochester hope their recent results will someday lead to better, and perhaps permanent treatments for dental plaque and tooth decay, as well as other biofilm-related diseases.

Dental plaque is a biofilm made up of bacteria enmeshed in a sticky matrix of extracellular polymers, a polymeric matrix, which is firmly attached to teeth. The researchers, led by co-senior authors Hyun (Michel) Koo, a professor in the Department of Orthodontics and the divisions of Pediatric Dentistry and Community Oral Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and Danielle Benoit, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester, found a new way to deliver an antibacterial agent within the plaque, despite the presence of saliva.

The findings were published in the journal ACS Nano.

“Usually orally-delivered therapeutics are only transiently exposed to the mouth, think of a mouthwash or toothpaste in the mouth for only a couple of minutes at the most,” Koo said. “The problem was how to retain bioactive molecules on site to prevent or control oral biofilm formation.”

“We had two specific challenges,” said Benoit. “We had to figure out how to deliver the anti-bacterial agent to the teeth and keep it there, and also how to release the agent into the targeted sites.”

Read the full story at: