In recognition of 40 years of volunteer service in Latin America and his community in Texas, the American Dental Association (ADA) has selected Thomas Bobby Davis, D.M.D., as the 2018 ADA Humanitarian Award recipient. Dr. Davis, known to patients and friends around the world as “T. Bob,” will be honored at ADA 2018 – America’s Dental Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, from October 18-22.
The ADA Humanitarian Award annually recognizes one ADA member who has distinguished themselves by creating a legacy of improving the oral health of underserved populations in the United States and abroad. The award includes a $10,000 donation to the dental charity or project of the recipient’s choice.
Dr. Davis, who lives in Dallas, Texas, had been practicing for almost 10 years before he went on his first overseas humanitarian trip in 1977. In the nearly four decades that followed, he has brought more than 1,500 dental students, and about 500 dentists, to Mexico and Central America on dental humanitarian missions.
“Dr. Davis is well known throughout the ADA for his volunteerism and he has inspired many students to initiate their own humanitarian efforts,” said ADA President Dr. Joe Crowley. “He truly embodies humanitarian ideals and attributes by demonstrating significant leadership and outstanding volunteer accomplishments that bring honor to the profession.”
Dr. Davis and his team helped people in and around Matamoros, Mexico, for more than 30 years before violence in the border town led Dr. Davis to look for another location. The group now travels to San Raymundo, Guatemala, where they treat its neediest populations.
The team’s sixth trip to San Raymundo in March 2017 was its most successful yet, according to Dr. Davis. The group included 16 dentists and 50 dental students — 21 from Texas A&M University College of Dentistry (Dallas) and 29 from The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston. They treated 820 people, delivering more than $329,000 worth of dental care.
Dr. Davis’ service has not been limited to Guatemala and Mexico. He has contributed to organizations such as the Academy of General Dentistry, the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Southern Baptist Convention. He has also volunteered at his church as a deacon, youth worker and pianist while using his dental expertise to treat children from low income households in Texas. In 2014, the Texas Academy of General Dentistry named him its Dentist of the Year.
Even after a lifetime of serving others, Dr. Davis said Dr. Crowley’s call to inform him he won the award brought him to tears.
“It was a team effort,” said Dr. Davis. “Those who deserve it are all the people who have been with me over the years.”
About the American Dental Association
The not-for-profit ADA is the nation’s largest dental association, representing more than 161,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public’s health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA’s state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA’s flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit ada.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA’s consumer website MouthHealthy.org.