Dr. Christina Kulesa is the 2021 recipient of the Ohio Dental Association Marvin Fisk Humanitarian Award.

Dr. Christina Kulesa is dedicated to giving back to her community. In recognition of her efforts she will receive the 2021 Ohio Dental Association Marvin Fisk Humanitarian Award on Friday, Oct. 1 at the Callahan Celebration of Excellence, held in conjunction with the 155th ODA Annual Session.

“Since opening Northstar Family Dental in 2010, Dr. Kulesa has inspired our team, her peers and our community members to embrace every opportunity to positively impact our immediate community and far beyond,” wrote Tiffany Fleeman of Northstar Family Dental in her nomination letter.

Kulesa said receiving the award was a surprise and is a wonderful recognition.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Kulesa said she had a conversation with her family dentist about how dentistry is a great career choice. She shadowed him at his office and decided she wanted to become a dentist.

Kulesa attended dental school at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine where she graduated top of class. She also earned her MBA from Ashland University. After dental school, she came to Columbus where she worked as an associate dentist for five years. She opened her own practice in 2010, which has been growing since then.

Kulesa said her favorite part about being a dentist is her relationships with her patients and the community.

“Especially as a general dentist, so many of my patients have known me for a long time, maybe before they were married or had children, and now I’m caring for their children,” she said. “I love that relational part. Making smiles is great – making people happy and giving people confidence about their smile – but really just being part of their lives is very rewarding.”

Kulesa and her office are dedicated to giving back to the community.

She and the office support local schools by visiting, educating and donating health care supplies. The office also hosts a bi-monthly charity program where a portion of the practice’s proceeds is donated to a charity of the month that is suggested by a patient or team member. The office also volunteers together on a quarterly basis at a local non-profit organization such as the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, Westerville Area Resource Ministry and the Ohio Furniture Bank, among others.

The office also hosts free dental care events, such as Dentistry from the Heart days where they open the office to provide free dental care, and events to provide free care to veterans and service members.

“A big part of Northstar Family Dental commitment is to being a part of our community and making our community stronger,” Kulesa said. “Free care days are the best days. Sometimes we get into a rut, we come in, put our head down all day long, and sometimes we can forget the value of what we do. When you have a day where otherwise these patients wouldn’t be served, it really puts into perspective how fortunate all of us are. It’s a wonderful team building opportunity.”

In 2019, Kulesa and several members of her team traveled to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip. On the trip, they spent a few days at a local hospital clinic and then went on a mobile RV unit where they provided care to people in remote, impoverished villages.

From the RV, they performed cleanings and extractions for patients. They had no radiographs and very little running water.

“Some of these patients were in pain and couldn’t be seen for months,” Kulesa said. “We distributed hygiene supplies so they could try to establish care. Everyone was so appreciative.”

Kulesa said she thinks it’s important to give back to the community because dentistry is a valuable, specialized skillset.

“It’s something not everyone can do, and since we have the opportunity, I think that all of us should take a day,” she said. “If all of us took one day to give back in dentistry, I think it could be very impactful for the state, region and country. A lot of people can’t afford dental care, even a simple tooth extraction, to relieve pain and allow them to get back to work.”

Kulesa is a member of the American Dental Association, Ohio Dental Association and Central Ohio Dental Society.

She said she thinks organized dentistry is important because it provides a unified voice for the profession.

“It calls attention to areas that may get overlooked if you’re just one person shouting,” she said. “If all of us shout that there should be changes, there is strength in numbers. I think organized dentistry advocates for us, and every group should have someone who advocates for best practices, what’s best for patients and the profession, and that’s what organized dentistry is there to do.”

She added that the ODA and ADA were also a tremendous resource during the pandemic to help ensure the safety of the dental team and patients.

Outside of dentistry, Kulesa enjoys spending time with her family as a mom of two daughters and playing tennis. She said her husband, Steve, has been a huge support throughout her career, and her parents have been her biggest cheerleaders. The Marvin Fisk Humanitarian Award is given to dentists who are working to improve the oral health of people in need, of all ages and from all walks of life. The award winners give of their time and energy overseas or closer to home, spending hours and personal resources to help fight illnesses.