Dr. Michael Thomas

Dr. Michael Thomas is the 2023 recipient of the Ohio Dental Association Achievement Award.

Dr. Michael Thomas has been heavily involved in the Stark County Dental Society and organized dentistry throughout his career. In recognition of his efforts, he will receive the Ohio Dental Association Achievement Award on Friday, Sept. 22 at the Callahan Celebration of Excellence, held in conjunction with the 157th ODA Annual Session.

“The SCDS strongly feels that Dr. Mike Thomas’ contribution and commitment to the dental profession and community abundantly meet the criteria for the ODA’s Achievement Award,” wrote Dr. James Fanno, a past president of the ODA and SCDS; Dr. Ronald Stanich, a past president of the ODA and SCDS; Dr. Thomas Paumier, a past president of the ODA and SCDS; and Dr. Stephen Dowell, president of SCDS, in their nomination letter. “Over the years, Dr. Mike has held nearly every office and been a true leader in the initiation and development of our society’s major advancements.”

Thomas said “I am happy to receive this award on behalf of the Stark County Dental Society. We have a great culture at the SCDS. The members embraced my wife, Julie Thomas DDS and me in 1992 and have been very loving and encouraging. In the SCDS we work purposely to support each other and the patients we serve.”

Thomas earned his DDS degree from The Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1992 and after graduation went on to private practice in North Canton.

“My favorite part of being a dentist is providing great care to our patients in many different ways, providing a supportive, loving work environment for my staff and being able to support my community,” Thomas said.

Thomas has been very involved with the Stark County Dental Society since he began his career as a dentist.

In 1994, he served as the dental society’s bulletin editor and established the publication’s format that is still used today. Since then, he has served in many roles.

He has served as SCDS treasurer for over 20 years. During that time, he has grown their reserves to over half a million dollars and created a C3 endowment fund. He was also the driving force to create a unique renting arrangement for the dental society with Stark State College. The arrangement has decreased the society’s overhead, and they are one of the only component societies in the nation to be juxtaposed with a dental clinic, and SCDS provides funding for capital improvements.

Thomas served as the 100th president of SCDS and helped plan the society’s 100 year celebration. He organized a gala fundraiser featuring Ohio State University Football Coach Jim Tressel. The event raised $100,000, which was used to establish Mercy Hospital’s first designated fund to provide for the long-term capital needs of the Mercy Medical General Practice Dental Residency.

“The GPR has benefited our community in many ways,” Thomas said. “The fund has now grown to over a million dollars.”

Thomas established the SCDS Veteran’s Program, which has provided more than $500,000 worth of care to over 100 veterans. He also discovered and hired the SCDS Executive Director Laura DeForest, who has served in that role for the past 15 years.

He has served in many additional capacities with the SCDS, including as chair of the Long Range Planning Committee, the Budget Committee, the Leadership Nomination Committee, the Committee to Establish SCDS Charitable Foundation and the Presidents Club. He has also served on many other councils and committees with the SCDS and served as an alternate delegate to the ODA. He is a strong supporter of ODPAC, contributing at the $1,000 platinum level for the past 10 years.

“Organized dentistry is important for many reasons, two of which are providing the best opportunity for us to serve our patients and providing opportunities to support and be supported by our peers,” Thomas said.

Thomas was founder of the Canton Community Clinic Leahy Dental Department, where he volunteered to treat more than 1,000 underprivileged patients. He also has served as a Dental OPTIONS provider and Bethlehem Project provider and on the Heart of Gold Foundation Board of Directors.

“I encourage my fellow dentists to involve themselves in a philanthropic endeavor outside of their practice or their own self-interest,” he said. “I have found that although I have put a great deal of time into outside pursuits, I received two times as much back in terms of friendships, satisfaction and gained wherewithal to put toward future endeavors.”

Thomas is a member of the Delta Sigma Delta Dental Fraternity and Academy of GP Orthodontics.

Thomas received the ODA’s Rising Star Award in 2001 and Humanitarian Award in 2005. He also has received the SCDS Rising Star Award; SCDS Man of the Year Award; American Dental Association Recognition Award from the Council on Access, Prevention, and Interprofessional Relations; and has been inducted into the Louisville High Hall of Achievement, among other awards and recognitions.

Outside of dentistry, Thomas enjoys supporting and enhancing Stark County and his hometown of Louisville. He has served as chair of the Stark State College Board of Trustees, chaired a multi-million capital campaign at St. Louis Catholic Church, served as vice president of the Notre Dame Club of Canton, served on the Advisory Board at Walsh University and is involved with the Louisville City Schools, including serving as a school board member, among many other activities in his community.

“I would like to thank my Delta Sigma Delta brothers and sisters for getting me through dental school,” Thomas said. “I would also like to thank my parents, Elden and Janet Thomas, for instilling in me my approach toward people and circumstances. I would like to thank my wife, Julie Thomas DDS (OSU Class of 1990), as well as my son Michael DDS (OSU Class of ’21) and his wife Brittney DDS (OSU Class of ‘21) and our son Phillip (OSU undergrad ’20 and four time OSU Big Ten Football Championship team member). My family has allowed me to be away from them many nights and encouraged my efforts.”

The Achievement Award is given to someone with a personal and professional commitment to the dental profession and the public’s oral health, and who is an ambassador for the dental profession with solid respect for the profession.