AUGUSTA, Maine — Dr. Jonathan Shenkin for some time has given voice to the issues of pediatric dentistry.
Now he can be heard by an even larger audience, as he recently was chosen by the American Dental Association to be a national spokesperson on pediatric dentistry.
Shenkin, 38, who operated a dental practice in Bangor for more than five years and moved his practice to Augusta in March, was chosen for the position because of his expertise in dental public health and pediatric dentistry, according to a press release from the Maine Dental Association. He also has extensive public speaking experience.
“It is an honor to do this, and I am very excited,” he said by phone Monday. “It is an exciting opportunity for me.
“My major responsibility will be to respond to media inquiries for the ADA on pediatric dentistry issues,” he said.
Shenkin said he auditioned for the position, and that the process, which went on for more than a year, involved several steps.
“It was pretty interesting,” he said. “I had to demonstrate that I had a handle on public speaking and a broad knowledge of the subject area.”
Shenkin has been a vocal advocate of children’s health. He was a driving force in 2007 behind a Bangor ordinance that banned smoking in vehicles when children are present. The measure since has been expanded into a state law.
Last year, Shenkin proposed that Maine prohibit soda purchases with food stamp dollars. He cited soda as a major contributor to dental decay.
“I have always believed that speaking out on issues of importance is part of my responsibility to promote good oral health,” Shenkin said in the release. “To me, oral health begins with prevention and prevention is based on education.”
Shenkin serves as the president of the Maine Dental Association board of trustees. He also is an assistant clinical professor of health policy, health services research and pediatric dentistry at Boston University.
He completed his dental degree at Columbia University, a master’s degree in public health at Johns Hopkins University, a residency in dental public health at the National Institutes of Health, and a residency in pediatric dentistry at the University of Iowa. His wife, Dr. Michal Kleinlerer, is an orthodontist in Augusta and Waterville.
Shenkin, a Brunswick resident, said he plans to continue running his practice full time in Augusta, and is unsure how much of his time will be taken up by his new post.
“I really do not know what to expect,” he said Monday. “It may be just periodic phone calls or television time. Dentistry doesn’t show up in the news all that often, but that is something I would like to change.”