World Congress grants Leadership Award to dental hygienist

Aug. 29, 2008
Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, BSDH, FACE of Sun Prairie, Wisc., receives award.

The World Congress of Minimally Invasive Dentistry awarded its Leadership Award to Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, BSDH, FACE of Sun Prairie, Wisc. Gutkowski received the award Aug. 15 at the WCMID annual conference in Chicago.

Gutkowski, a clinician, began her dental hygiene career in 1986. Since 2000, her focus has shifted to educating other clinicians about using the medical model of treatment for dental conditions that revolves around more than just brushing and flossing.

Her current interests are in affecting the oral care of dependent adults without creating more of a burden on the nursing staff. Using xylitol and other ingredients, a recent nursing home study showed marked improvement in the plaque levels of the residents.

After the study ended, the CNAs wanted to continue with the protocol because the residents' breath was so much better.

"I love dental hygiene, and I'm overjoyed to be in this profession right now", said Gutkowski, immediate past president of the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists' Association and 2008 recipient of the Alumna of the Year Award in dental hygiene from Marquette University School of Health Science.

Cofounder and past president of the WCMID, Dr. Kim Kutsch, said: "Shirley is one of our champions, bringing our message forward. Her continued efforts in reaching out to clinicians across the professions are why she's an example of what the award represents."

Gutkowski's FACE designation is a Fellowship award from the Academy of Esthetic Dentistry. She is well published in dental and consumer magazines as well as being a self-published book author of a bestselling book.

Gutkowski is co-director of CareerFusion, an organization to facilitate career evolution of health-care providers such as dental assistants and hygienists, as well as nurses to learn writing, speaking, and selling.

She is also involved with Adopt a Nursing Home, using the principles of oral biofilm reduction that don't hinge on brushing and flossing dependent adults.

Her company, Cross Link Presentations, brings news of optimal oral health as a means to overall health since 2003.

"Medicine needs to understand that dentistry is not just about drilling teeth," says Gutkowski.

Previous WCMID award winners include Dr. P.D. Marsh, Lifetime Achievement for his work with biofilm; Tim Harbolt, DDS, President's Award; and John Derango, DDS, Clinician of the Year.

Doug Young, DDS, University of California Pacific; Jon Roth California Dental Association Foundation; John Featherstone, PhD, Dean of the University of San Francisco Dental School also have been Leadership Award winners. Joel Berg, DDS, University of Washington, received an award for education.

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