Linda DeVore Dental Hygiene Award

Lisa Bress, RDH ’83, MS ’94Lisa Bress, RDH ’83, MS ’94 

This award recognizes a dental hygiene graduate of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) who represents the integrity, intellectual curiosity, community-mindedness, and leadership epitomized by DeVore. The 2023 award recognizes Lisa Bress, RDH, MS, clinical associate professor and division chief, Dental Hygiene Program, Department of Advanced Oral Sciences and Therapeutics.

“I feel so honored to receive this award. Linda [Devore] was a special mentor for me while I was a student and in my faculty role,” Bress said. “As a leader, she guided and supported faculty without micromanaging and empowered us to rise to the occasion and reach our potential.”

In addition to her role as division chief of UMSOD’s Dental Hygiene Program, Bress, who has been a faculty member since 1995, has worked to develop strategic partnerships and programs aimed at expanding access to oral health care to Maryland’s underserved populations.

She is the principal investigator of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Prenatal Postpartum Advisory Board (PPAB), a state-wide advisory group of community mothers from the B’More for Healthy Babies program and health professionals from institutions including the University of Maryland schools of medicine and dentistry.

The PPAB works to help jump-start Maryland’s new expanded Medicaid dental benefits for postpartum mothers and all adults (effective April 2022 and January 2023, respectively) with the aim of increasing health equity. Now in its second year, PPAB is sponsored by CareQuest Institute for Oral Health and Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

In 2018, Bress launched and continues to direct an innovative collaboration between UMSOD and the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Women’s Health Center (UMWHC), which integrates oral health into prenatal care offered to underserved mothers in Baltimore.

Through it, women who come to UMWHC for prenatal care are referred to UMSOD student providers for urgent and comprehensive dental services. Since its inception, the program has provided oral health care services and education to nearly 600 pregnant individuals.

Bress also has worked to develop partnerships aimed at expanding access to oral health care with other organizations that target underserved populations in Cecil County, Md., and through Baltimore-based programs such as Paul’s Place Homeless Center, the Back to School Fair in Baltimore County, the UMB CURE Scholars Program, and the Healthy Habit Port Discovery Program.

Her aim is to transfer classroom lessons to in-person activities through which dental hygiene students serve the community while gaining experiences with the potential to impact their careers.

“Working with underserved communities gives me the opportunity to share knowledge, which helps individuals to make informed decisions that improve their health. That is what’s most rewarding,” Bress said.

“I like to think that I model this behavior so that we graduate students who are interested in advancing oral health and helping the whole person.”

Her approach has been appreciated: Bress has been honored by senior students in 2004 with an Excellence in Teaching Award and named Teacher of the Year in 1999, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012.