By Ruth Cummins
Jackson Advocate Guest Writer
When Dr. Alexa Lampkin was confirmed by the Mississippi Senate to a seat on the state Board of Dental Examiners, she didn’t just become the only dental school faculty member sitting at the table. She became the first woman dentist to serve on the board in its history.
“I’m paving the way for other women who are ready to shatter glass ceilings,” said Lampkin, assistant professor of care planning and restorative sciences and director of admissions at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s School of Dentistry.
Appointed in June 2022 by Gov. Tate Reeves, Lampkin’s selection was made official last month. She joins an eight-member board that has a designated spot for a dental hygienist. The other seats are held by dentists.
The board isn’t associated with any private practice or professional organization. It licenses about 2,000 dentists, 1,650 dental hygienists, and 3,800 radiology providers, said Denny Hydrick, the board’s executive director.
The legislatively mandated board is a regulatory agency charged with examining, licensing, registering, and regulating the practice of dentistry and dental hygiene. Members ensure competency of those providers and ethical behavior of all dental professionals in the state.
“Dr. Alexa Lampkin’s appointment to the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners is historic,” Hydrick said. “As the first female dentist appointed to the board, Dr. Lampkin also brings a unique academic and clinical training perspective to the work and mission of the board.
“Her commitment to public safety and welfare is exemplified through her active engagement and her service to the citizens of Mississippi as a member of the board,” Hydrick said. “Dr. Lampkin’s professionalism, kindness, and her unique ability to engage with others makes for an enjoyable interaction.”
The board’s “ultimate goal is to safeguard and enhance the health and welfare of the residents of our state,” Lampkin said. “We ensure that all dentists and dental hygienists are compliant with regulations and policies to protect and maintain patient care and their optimal oral health.”
Dr. Sreenivas Koka, dean of the School of Dentistry and professor of care planning and restorative sciences, said Lampkin brings perspective and professionalism to the board.
“I am pleased that the voice of a young vibrant educator and practitioner will be present on the dental board,” Koka said. “Dr. Lampkin will bring her wisdom to the matters that affect our state and to our state’s citizens impacted by board decisions.”
Hers will be a voice for the School of Dentistry, its students, faculty, and staff.
“Though I will have to recuse myself on any licensing or examinations held at the School of Dentistry, my presence on the board will be pivotal to fulfilling our mission of teaching a new generation of dentists to deliver oral health care with skill, compassion, and experience” Lampkin said.
“In this role, I will be the face and the voice on the board to echo any concerns faced by students and residents. In addition, as students’ achievements are applauded and exalted, those will be shared as well. It’s like a two-way street.”
After graduation from the School of Dentistry in 2017, Lampkin completed an Advanced Education General Dentistry residency at the school, then joined the Medical Center as an assistant professor.
Being part of academia makes her role on the dental board that much more special. “Sometimes, we might not have the representation of Dean Koka. I’ll be there as representation at every board meeting,” Lampkin said.
She’s serving as a board representative at-large through 2026, filling a member’s unexpired six-year term. “It will be a huge learning experience, and I am confident Dr. Lampkin will grow immensely from the mentorship she receives from the other board members,” Koka said.
Lampkin hopes more appointments of women dentists will follow hers. “It’s time, and it’s overdue,” she said.
“Our field of dentistry is growing with women representation,” she said. “There’s a reserved spot on the board for a dental hygienist, but that’s just one spot.”