Most fields start out being dominated by men. Dentistry is no different. This month Dr. Loev and his team decided to take a look at women in dentistry, its history, and even its future.
As with most trades, dentistry has been a male-dominated field since its conception; which has actually been traced back to ancient Egypt around 7500 B.C. The earliest named dentist in history is thought to be Hesi-Re. He practiced in around 3500 B.C. and was called “Chief of the Toothers.” The number of amazing characters both male and female in dentistry are too many to mention in a brief blog post so we have opted to stay focused for now and focus on the most prominent woman in dental history.
The First Wave: Female Dental Practitioners
The first recorded female dentist lived in Sweden. In 1852 the Swedish government granted Amalia Assur specific permission to practice dentistry but she was not officially licensed. The first licensed and legally practicing female dentist in Sweden was not until Rosalie Fougelberg in 1861.
Around the same time 1855, over the pond in the US, Emeline Jones took on a role as her husband’s assistant and became the first woman to practice dentistry in the U.S. Lucy Taylor was the first female graduate of a dental college, the Ohio Dental College, in 1866. Ida Rollins was the first African-American female graduate with a dental degree in 1890.
The Second Wave: Organizing Professionals
Women were not satisfied just practicing dentistry and caring for patients. As more women began to study and practice dentistry, professional organizations for female dentists started to form. In 1892, 33 years after the ADA (The American Dental Association) Mary Stillwell-Kuesel and 12 original members created the Women’s Dental Association. This group functioned as a way for female practitioners to stay updated on the constantly advancing field of dental medicine. Twenty-nine years later, in 1921, 12 new female dentists founded the Federation of American Women Dentists (now called the American Association of Women Dentists). This same year the first woman was admitted into the ADA. The AAWD now and then gave female dentists a way to support each other, make dentistry a more organized field of study and promoted dental education.
The Third Wave: Moving Forward
In 1951 even the military could claim female dental officers, with Helen Myers commissioned to the U.S. Army Dental Corps. Women have slowly but steadily made headways into many professions, dentistry is no different. In 1968, only 1.1% of dental students were female. By 1978 this number had risen to 15.9% and according to an unpublished 2014 report from the Survey of Dental Practice, ADA Health Policy Institute in 2014, it was 47.7 percent. Even with the increase in female licensed dentists, only about 50% of female dentists are solo practice owners compared to 75% of men. Dentistry hasn’t been immune to the social and political issue blanketing the U.S. According to the ADA female dentists make on average 38% less than their male counterparts making the #TimesUp movement relevant even in this ancient yet ever-evolving field.
San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L Loev, DMD is proud to surround himself with amazing individuals, male and female who are committed to both excellence in dentistry and customer care. Dr. Pina our newest associate optimizes modern females in dentistry. She is a mother, dentist and community advocate that helps care for and promote dental health in our San Francisco Community.
Dr. Loev and his team love to welcome new patients and those looking to improve or transform their smiles. If you are in need/want of a new dentist or a second opinion on treatment. Please them at 415-392-2072 to schedule a new patient examination or a complimentary consultation.