CHICAGO, December 19, 2012 – For the last 22 years, Dr. Sherwin R. Shinn has dedicated his life to providing oral health care to underserved people. For his efforts, Dr. Shinn has been named the 2013 ADA Humanitarian Award.
He realized his life’s mission during a trip to the Himalayas in Nepal. He met 5-year-old Sonam Sherpa, who was swollen from temple to armpit with a life-threatening systemic infection caused by abscessed teeth. He saved the girl’s life by performing rudimentary extractions, vowing to return with toothbrushes, education and other tools. He not only returned to Nepal 18-months later, but has since traveled to more than 40 other countries. Averaging four international trips a year, he coordinates volunteer teams to provide dental care, teach oral hygiene, offer training and supplies to local providers, and improve maternal and infant health by upgrading conditions in rural labor and delivery rooms.
Early on, Dr. Shinn set up a nonprofit foundation to establish dental health education and outreach programs in developing countries. He has trained and mentored hundreds of volunteers and says that many of them have gone on to start their own programs.
“It's humbling to see how people are afflicted and know that you have the capability to fix it. That's what we dentists do," he said. “Volunteering makes life so much more delicious and exciting and worth living. When you work for money, you can have all the things money can buy. When you work unconditionally, you get to have all the things money can't buy.”
In 2002 he worked with Great Shape!, a nonprofit organization that provides health care and education in Jamaica, to establish the 1000 Smiles Project—one of the world's largest international humanitarian dental projects that serves 15,000 Jamaicans each year.
At home in Washington State, he served as the dental director and is now a staff dentist for Lindquist Dental Clinic for Children, a community-based, private non-profit clinic that sees over 30,000 patient visits each year by children from low-income families.
"I would like to sincerely thank Dr. Shinn for his contributions to the dental profession, and congratulate him on being the 2013 recipient of the ADA Humanitarian Award," said Dr. Robert A. Faiella, ADA president. "This prestigious award is designed to recognize an ADA member who has made a lasting impact on the oral health of their fellow human beings. It is clear that Dr. Shinn has changed the lives of individuals, and motivated other health care professionals to get involved and to give their time and resources to those in need."
Dr. Shinn has received many accolades for his work, including the Washington State Dental Association 2003 Citizen of the Year and the 2003 National Jefferson Award, the nation's highest honor for public service. He is the co-founder of "International Smile Power", and the co-founder and current president of "For World Wide Smiles", which is planning trips to Uganda, Jamaica, and Haiti in 2013. He is also the author of "Confessions of a Modern Dentist" and lectures on How To Make Your Dreams Come True, Raising Self-Esteem and Empowering Yourself and Others, and Maximizing The Fulfillment Factor In Dentistry and Life Through Volunteerism.
Dr. Shinn will receive a plaque and a $5,000 donation to For World Wide Smiles during the ADA's 154th annual session in New Orleans Oct. 31-Nov. 3.
The ADA Division of Global Affairs is now accepting nominations for the 2014 ADA Humanitarian Award. To download the nomination packet log on to www.ada.org/1477.aspx.