UW School of Dentistry

Dr. Donald Chi named Pediatric Dentist of the Year

Dr. Donald Chi, Associate Professor of Oral Health Sciences, has been named Pediatric Dentist of the Year by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).

Dr. Donald ChiThe award, which be officially presented at AAPD’s annual meetings in May, goes to a pediatric dentist who has made significant contributions to the dental profession and the specialty of pediatric dentistry through clinical practice, academics or policy development over the past year. Recipients also have devoted extensive volunteer leadership service to the dental profession and their specialty.

Dr. Chi’s previous awards include the 2017 International Association for Dental Research’s Young Investigator Award; the American Dental Association’s 2015 Evidence-Based Dentistry Faculty and Practice Award; the initial Sunstar Americas Pediatric Prevention Award in 2013; and the 2016 Jerome B. Miller Crest Oral B. For the Kids award from AAPD’s Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children foundation.

Dr. Chi’s recent research includes the first long-term study of dental health aide therapist (DHAT) utilization, which he based on data collected from 2006 to 2015 in Alaska’s Yukon Kuskokwim Delta. His study, which was published in January in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, found that greater access to the therapists’ services in Alaska resulted in more use of preventive dental services and fewer extractions among adults and children. In addition, fewer children with more access required extractions of their four front teeth.

DHATs, also called midlevel providers, have been employed in New Zealand and other countries for nearly a century. They receive basic dental training, but unlike dental hygienists, they can perform irreversible procedures such as extractions and fillings. In the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta, where the therapists were first deployed in 2006, they are recruited from local communities and work under the supervision of licensed dentists.

Dr. Chi, who also holds an adjunct appointment in the UW School of Public Health, holds a DDS degree from the UW and a PhD in health services research from the University of Iowa. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, abstracts, and book chapters. His wide-ranging research interests include access to dental care services, Alaska Native pediatric oral health disparities, oral health of low-income children with special health care needs, and the relationship between medical and dental care utilization.

He is the first dentist and UW faculty member to be named a William T. Grant Foundation Scholar, and in 2013 he received the International Association for Dental Research Colgate Community-Based Research Award for Caries Prevention and the Bengt Magnusson Memorial Prize in Child Dental Health from the International Association of Pediatric Dentistry.