Dental Alum Tapped to Lead National Organization

Cesar Sabates is president of the American Dental Association

For UMKC School of Dentistry alum, César Sabatés (DDS ‘87, AEGD ’88), the oral health care field has been a lifelong passion. Now he’s rising even further in the profession. Sabatés has been chosen as the next president of the American Dental Association (ADA), the nation’s largest dental organization, representing 162,000 members.

Sabatés is the 158th president in the organization’s storied history and the first Cuban-American to hold the position. He is a first-generation immigrant, whose family came from Cuba in 1967. In his address to the ADA House of Delegates, he proudly described his family’s pursuit of the American Dream. 

“As you may know, I was a child of Castro-era Cuba,” he said. “At seven years old, my family boarded a freedom flight to the United States. My parents sacrificed everything to ensure that their children would have the chance to be free and educated here in the land of opportunities.”

Sabatés, a son of a dentist, was born in Camaguey, Cuba. Although, the junior Sabatés pursued an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the University of Miami, the draw of the family business eventually brought him to Kansas City and the UMKC School of Dentistry.

His time at the school continues to guide the care he provides his patients. He credits long-time dentistry faculty member, Dr. John Haynes, who gave him some influential advice that sticks with him some 35 years later.

“He was also a pediatric dentist, and all those years ago he told me, ‘Kids are terrified, so their first visit with you is important. Being rough will traumatize them. Being kind will be influential. Always be kind,’ said Sabatés. “Today, his advice comes to mind every time I meet with a patient of any age—first visit, last visit, and all those in between.” 

Sabates has been a long-standing active and influential member of ADA, serving as the 17th District trustee of the ADA Board of Trustees from 2016-2020 and as a delegate in the ADA House of Delegates from 2000-2016. He is also a past president of the Florida Dental Association and South Florida District Dental Association.

As for his plans for the ADA, the compassionate advice Haynes gave resonates throughout. According to Sabates, an important aspect of his presidency is strengthening the group’s professional family as well as making everyone feel welcome in the ADA.

“Dr. Haynes’ straightforward advice on love and compassion for patients has been integral to my philosophy of care,” Sabates said in his ADA address. “His kindness mattered to me, and I can only hope that my kindness has mattered to my patients just the same.”

Learn more about School of Dentistry

Published: Jan 27, 2022

Top Stories