Who Are the Historical Women in Dentistry?

Who Are the Historical Women in Dentistry?

As with most trades, dentistry has been a male-dominated field since its conception; as early as the 16th Century. However, when Lucas Van Leyden created a copper engraving of a female dentist’s assistant, dentistry has shown a rise in the number of women eager to practice in the new and continually advancing field of oral health care. This article written with help of family dentist in epsom auckland.

The First Wave: Practitioners

The earliest recorded female dentist lived in Sweden. In 1852 the Swedish government granted Amalia Assur specific permission to practice dentistry, even though the profession was not legally open to both genders at the time. And later as a result, Rosalie Fougelberg was the first woman to become a legal dental practitioner in Sweden.

Meanwhile, in 1855, Emeline Jones took on a role as her husband’s assistant and became the first woman to practice dentistry in the U.S. The profession only opened up even more after that. Lucy Taylor was the first female graduate of a dental college, the Ohio Dental College, in 1866. And Ida Rollins was the first African-American graduate with a dental degree in 1890.

The Second Wave: Professional Organizations

As more women began to study and practice dentistry, professional organizations for female dentists started springing up. In 1892, Mary Stillwell-Kuesel and 12 original charter members created the Women’s Dental Association of the U.S. This group functioned as a way for female practitioners to stay updated on the constantly advancing field of oral 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 time, they not only helped one another, but fostered a sense of camaraderie among all female dentists. The organization also worked to make dentistry a more organized field of study and promoted dental education.

Women were also more well-known in the wider field of dentistry. Anita Martin, in 1923, became the first female elected into Omicron Kappa Upsilon, a dental honor society. By 1951, even the military could claim female dental officers, with Helen Myers commissioned to the U.S. Army Dental Corps.

The Third Wave: Leaders

As a larger number of women became drawn to the field, professional dentistry as a whole changed. Many organizations started boasting of female presidents in their histories. N. Gail McLaurin started the wave in the United States. She was elected president of the American Student Dental Association in 1988. Geraldine Morrow soon followed as the first female president of the American Dental Association in 1991. As the 21st Century progresses, more dental organizations support female leadership and show growing gender equality in the field.

Join Alpers Dental in celebrating Women’s History Month by remembering and honoring these women. They changed the scope of dentistry throughout history and we must recognize them for their hard work and determination to come out on top