2017 10 Under 10 Winner: From the Midwest to Kenya, She’s Making All the Difference

“I am blessed, humbled and grateful to be living my dream!”

From an early age, ADA 10 Under 10 Award recipient Dr. Katie Vincer Sears was driven by a desire to serve others. Today, her Ohio dental practices in the underserved areas of Pickerington and Zanesville are beacons of hope for patients who rely on Medicaid or managed care plans.

Dr. Sears’ Zanesville office is also part of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry’s community practice initiative where 4th year students spend time treating patients in need. As an adjunct professor, she lectures to both 3rd and 4th year dental students on the Columbus campus and has started a dental assistant school to help community residents find employment within the dental field.

Dr. Sears’ volunteer efforts cross borders as well; in 2017 she served in remote western Kenya at the Maasai Mara Dental Clinic. This walk-in clinic serves members of the Maasai Tribe, whom Dr. Sears found to have much better teeth than many Americans due to the low amount of sugar in their diets. (Sadly, she mentioned that some Maasai children have tooth decay from the candy that tourists often bring when visiting their home.)

She notes that Kenyans do not use traditional toothbrushes and toothpaste. They brush their teeth with small branches from osokonoi trees, which have an antiseptic quality when chewed.

Dr. Sears is looking forward to returning to Kenya for another clinic stint in July 2019. In the meantime, she is proud to participate in outreach initiatives throughout the Midwest, including ADA’s Give Kids A Smile program, Dentistry From The Heart, TeamSmile, and the Ohio Dental Association’s Dental Options program. With her husband Scott, she chaired the annual gala for Cornerstone of Hope in 2017, and they will have an encore engagement in 2019.

A 2003 B.A. graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, Dr. Sears is the current president of the Alumnae Board of Directors, as well as a member of the college Board of Trustees. She received her D.D.S. from Ohio State in 2008.

With three young children — Scotty, Stella and John — the Sears family loves to travel, and were delighted to use her 10 Under 10 Award towards family fun. They are active members of the Columbus Zoo, visiting the animals several times a month even during winter. Dr. Sears nicely balances her philanthropy and leadership with a goofy sense of humor: her voice mail message cheerfully reminds callers that “You only need to floss the teeth you want to keep.”

Dr. Sears  is a winner of the 2017 10 Under 10 Award. Nominations for the 2018 10 Under 10 Awards opened Oct. 1. To submit a nomination, visit ADA.org/10Under10.

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