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Beyond the Chair: Recognizing Women in Dentistry



Dr. Jacqueline Sanders, Floss & Fido - Family Dentistry




In the evolving field of dentistry, both men and women have made remarkable contributions, each bringing unique strengths to patient care. While pioneering women like Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor broke early barriers, today's female dentists continue to excel in patient satisfaction and preventive care.


Simultaneously, male dentists are recognized for their efficiency and extensive service provision, demonstrating excellence across various dental practices. Together, male and female dentists enrich the profession with diverse perspectives and skills, ensuring comprehensive dental care for all patients.


In today's article, as we celebrate Women's History Month, we'll be spotlighting the invaluable contributions of women in the field of dentistry.


From trailblazers who first introduced female presence in dental care to modern innovators shaping the future of the profession, their achievements mark significant milestones worth recognizing and honoring during this special month.


Modern Women of Dentistry


If you'd like to learn about our owner dentist, Dr. Sanders and her journey from early childhood to earning degrees in engineering, neurobiology and dental surgery and starting business then feel free to hop over here after your finish reading this article.


There are other amazing modern women in dentistry as well, the 2023 ADA 10 Under 10 winners include several remarkable women who have made significant contributions to dentistry:


  • Dr. Sapna Lohiya, a UCLA School of Dentistry graduate, leads the Women in Dentistry South Bay Chapter and is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Los Angeles. Recognized for her dedication to teaching, patient care, and community service, Dr. Lohiya has received numerous awards, including the Top Dentist Award and the Southern California Super Doctors "Rising Star" Award.

  • Dr. Stephanie Ganter from Texas, known for her innovative approach in combining periodontics and oral & maxillofacial surgery, and her global outreach through 'Between Two Teeth'.

  • Dr. Saniya Setia, originally from Chandigarh, India, has achieved notable academic and community service success, culminating in her DDS from the University of Colorado with honors. Recognized for her contributions to dental literature and philanthropy, she was awarded a Fellowship in the Pierre Fauchard Academy.

  • Dr. Alexandra Fitzgerald, a 2018 University of Maryland School of Dentistry graduate, currently holds the position of youngest President-Elect for the Maryland State Dental Association.



Historical Women of Dentistry

  • Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor: The first American woman to earn a dental degree, breaking gender barriers in dentistry.

  • Emeline Roberts Jones: First practicing female dentist in the U.S., mastering extractions and fillings by 19.

  • Dr. Ida Gray Nelson Rollins: The first African American woman dentist, paving the way for women of color in the profession.

  • Dr. Leonie von Meusebach–Zesch: A pioneer in mobile dentistry, bringing dental care to remote areas.

  • Dr. M. Evangeline Jordan: Specialized in pediatric dentistry, establishing it as a recognized specialty.

  • Dr. Helen Myers: Known for her research on fluoride and its effects on tooth enamel, contributing to dental care practices.

  • Jeanne C Sinkford: First female dean at a U.S. school of dentistry, with a rich career in teaching and administration.

  • Kathleen O'Loughlin: First woman Executive Director of the American Dental Association, focusing on public oral health




Struggles for Women in Dentistry


Historical Struggles

Early female dentists faced considerable obstacles, including societal norms that discouraged women from pursuing higher education and professional careers, especially in fields dominated by men like dentistry. They encountered resistance from dental schools, which often refused their admission based solely on gender. Even after earning their degrees, they struggled for professional acceptance and equal opportunities within the dental community. These pioneering women had to demonstrate exceptional skill and determination to practice dentistry and pave the way for future generations


Modern Struggles


Earnings Gaps


Research suggests that on average, women dentists earn less than their male counterparts. The exact disparity can vary based on factors such as specialization, geographic location, and years of experience.


Men dentists earned 54% more than women in 2010. Even after accounting for factors like age and hours worked, there remains a 36% unexplained difference in earnings between male and female dentists.


This wage disparity is consistent across other professions as well, such as medicine and law, indicating a broader issue of gender-based pay inequality.


Leadership Gaps


The leadership gap in dentistry shows women underrepresented in key positions despite making up 28% of the profession. With 48% of dental school applicants and 49% of graduates being female, the disparity in leadership roles is evident.


Patient Perception with Female Dentists


Most reputable research suggests that male and female dentists provide the same quality of diagnostic quality. However, various research studies have suggested that perception, experience and gender bias may play into the patients overall experience.


When exploring articles online and dental website claims, there appears to be some validation to this theory. Although anecdotical, there is a reoccurring theme in the industry online presence that patient's seem to report better experience from women. For example,


  • Conservative and Preventative Approach:

  • Women dentists often favor early intervention and preventative measures to avoid invasive procedures.

  • This approach may reduce long-term costs and discomfort for patients.

  • Nurturing and Empathetic Care:

  • Female dentists are perceived as more nurturing and empathetic, enhancing the patient experience, especially for those with dental anxiety.

  • Their ability to listen and empathize effectively can lead to a more satisfactory dentist-patient relationship.

  • Physical Comfort:

  • The smaller hand size of female dentists is noted to make dental procedures more comfortable for patients, implying a gentler approach.

  • Focus on Pediatric Dentistry:

  • Female dentists are particularly noted for recommending preventative measures like fluoride treatments in pediatric dentistry, emphasizing early dental health practices.


Each patient experience is unique, and we find that male and female both can provide amazing dental treatment and it seems important to call out both the scientific research, emerging trends and possible perceptions whether good and bad for women in the field.


As more women enter the dental field, we certainly welcome the positive feedback but want to always encourage people to not let gender bias interfere with them receiving amazing care from either men or women. There are good and "not so good" doctors in all shape and sizes.


Conclusion


The article celebrates the significant strides women have made in dentistry, from historical pioneers to modern leaders, while also addressing the challenges they face, such as wage and leadership gaps. It highlights the unique approach of female dentists towards patient care and the evolving perceptions of patients towards female dentists.


As we honor Women's History Month, the article underscores the importance of recognizing and addressing gender disparities in dentistry, advocating for equality and acknowledging the contributions of both male and female dentists to the field.







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