2004 Awardee: Charles W. Gish, DDS, MSD
The Oral Health Section of APHA is pleased to announce that the 2004 winner of the John W. Knutson Distinguished Service Award in Dental Public Health is Charles W. Gish, DDS, MSD, of Battle Ground, Ind. Gish is truly a man for all seasons, having had a long and distinguished career in dental public health. He has distinguished himself in public health practice, academia and clinical dental research.
Gish was born June 26, 1923 in Camden, Ind. He attended Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame before receiving his DDS degree with Honors (1949) and a MSD (1960) from Indiana University. From 1952-54, he was a Regional Dental Consultant for Region IX of the U.S. Public Health Service.
For 23 years, starting in 1962, Gish was the State Dental Director for Indiana, and for over 30 years, starting in 1954, he was on faculty at the Indiana University School of Dentistry, co-chairing the Department of Community Dentistry from 1969-1986, and a full-professor from 1977-1987. He was an untiring advocate to fluoridate community water supplies in Indiana, and by the mid-1980s fluoridated water was used by 93 percent of all Indiana residents on public water supplies.
A long-standing member and active participant of APHA's Oral Health Section, Gish was also president of the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors from 1969-1971 and received its Outstanding Achievement Award in 1986. He was also president of the American Association of Public Health Dentists from 1969-1970 (now the American Association of Public Health Dentistry) and received their Distinguished Service Award in 1976.
Gish has also been a remarkable clinical researcher. He was intimately involved in the early Crest studies, participating as a principal clinical investigator in most of the study projects involving the efficacy and acceptance of the first fluoride dentifrice, Crest. And he was instrumental in the research and development of a preventive prophylaxis paste that was used by dental practitioners for years. He and Joseph Muller later developed this product into a self-applied fluoride regimen, generally referred to as "brush ins" in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Last, but not least, Gish was one of the team members who worked with John Greene when the Healthy People initiative was begun in the late 1970s.