Meet the winners of the European Awards of Distinction

July 25, 2023

Sunstar, the international oral healthcare company, and the Sunstar Foundation in partnership with the European Dental Hygienist Federation (EDHF) announce the winners of the 2023 edition of the European Award of Distinction for Dental Hygienists.

The award, supported by the Sunstar Foundation, aims to celebrate the achievements of European dental hygienists. The 2023 Sunstar EDHF European Award of Distinction are:

Mayumi Kaneda, Director of the Sunstar Foundation said: “Congratulations to the winners! This award was always meant to put individual hygienists in the spotlight and to show what a difference one person can make to patients and dentistry. We’re very happy to present six dental hygienists who have demonstrated excellence in their chosen field and we’re confident this list will keep growing with every passing year, as there are many more dental hygienists in Europe that also deserve this recognition.”

Nominations were judged by an international committee of independent dental hygienists, carefully selected by the EDHF. “We are proud of all dental hygienists in Europe, and the nominations were a great opportunity to bring attention to their achievements in different activities, as shown in the nominations submitted, said Dr. Gitana Rederiene, president of the EDHF. “It also meant that judging was not an easy task. But in the end, there are six winners and EDHF congratulates these six excellent European dental hygienists”.

This European award, as well as its North American counterpart, acts as a ‘qualification round’ to the World Dental Hygienist Awards created in partnership by Sunstar and the International Federation of Dental Hygiene (IFDH). For this award, dental hygienists compete for global recognition, a money prize and a trip to Seoul, Korea to be celebrated at the 2024 International Symposium on Dental Hygiene (ISDH).

Join us in congratulating the winners!

Full Time Clinician: Lorella Mengarelli, Italy, Dental Hygienist at Studio Tiozzi Ferroni in Cesenatico

Lorella has developed specialist experience and expertise on the oral health of Alzheimer's and Dementia’s patients and educates family members and caregivers on how to manage the oral hygiene of loved ones at home.

"I'm honored and grateful to have been chosen for such a prestigious award; this is a milestone that I'll never forget and will always be kept close to my heart."

Public Health: Federica d’Anteo, Italy, Dental Hygienist at Il Centro Dentale s.a.s. in Cavaria con Premezzo, and author

Wrote ‘La cura dei denti senza barriere’ a first in Italian dental publishing which breaks down communication barriers between the dental team and patients who do not understand the language and aims to spread the culture of oral health, through dental hygienists, dentists and dental assistants, and to strengthen the concept of community dentistry

“When I heard I had won I could not believe it: I’m so proud to have created a tool that can break down the communication difficulties we face every day in our dental practice. Thank you for believing in such a powerful project.”

Research: Thérèse Elkerbout, the Netherlands, Dental Hygienist and Clinical Epidemiologist at the Academic Center for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA)

With a lifelong career commitment to dental hygiene, currently chief of the Help-Uganda-Foundation (HUG). Combines her three professional loves, being a dental hygienist in the oral hygiene practice, working as volunteer at the ACTA periodontology department on evidence-based dental hygiene and volunteering in Uganda. Awarded a PhD in December 2022.

“When I heard I had won this award, I was honored. After working as a Dental Hygienist in various fields for 31 years, doing voluntary work in various countries and recently completing a PhD, this nomination is the crown of my career. I hope that this motivates other dental hygienists to combine our beautiful profession with research.”

Entrepreneur: Carina Løvstad, Denmark, Dental Hygienist, author and owner of educational platform and book “Små Bisser”

After becoming a Mother, Carina was surprised how little dental hygiene on small children was a part of our healthcare system and wanted to change that, because she discovered that a lot of families struggle with toothbrushing. She started @smaabisser on Instagram, giving advice with stories from her own life with toothbrushing and small children. It now has 14.400 followers, a website and a book.

'Thank you Sunstar Foundation and EDHF, I feel honored and grateful. Personally, this recognition means a lot to me, because of the hours I spent writing the book. Professionally, I hope the book will make it easier for parents and children around the world to achieve better oral hygiene and thereby reduce oral diseases.'”

New RDH: Lars Toonen, the Netherlands, Dental Hygienist at Colloseum Dental Benelux and lecturer at HAN University of Applied Sciences

Lars helps to educate new professionals and contributes to research knowledge and projects. He also represents education in various committees of the Radboud University Medical Centre and treats patients in practice in a poor socio-economic neighbourhood. He also arranges work experience for students to help fill the shortfalls in dental care. He graduated this summer as a clinical health scientist.

“I am grateful and honored to receive this award. Let's make the world smile together.”

Academia: Gianna Maria Nardi, Italy, Dental Hygienist and Associate Professor at Sapienza University of Rome

One of the first 13 dental hygienists in Italy, Gianna founded the first association of dental hygienists and its entry into the IFDH. Collaborated in the first IFDH congress in Italy and has taught in various Italian universities and directed various Masters and Advanced Training Courses. Today, she directs a Master for the management of oral health in special needs patients.

“The profession in which you work is an integral part of life, and doing it with passion and commitment, and sharing the results of research or a new clinical approach that is useful for health with colleagues and students, becomes a mission. This award, decided by influential colleagues of the European Dental Hygienist Federation (EDHF) and made possible by the Sunstar Foundation is a great energy to continue academic work with joy. I dedicate this prize to my students.”