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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 69-73

Women dentists: Changing the face of dentistry

1 Department of Periodontics, Panineeya Maha Vidyalaya Institute of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, NTR University of Health Sciences, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
2 Department of Conservative and Endodontics, Panineeya Maha Vidyalaya Institute of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, NTR University of Health Sciences, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Date of Web Publication22-Dec-2015

Correspondence Address:
Jammula Surya Prasanna
Department of Periodontics, Panineeya Maha Vidyalaya Institute of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, NTR University of Health Sciences, Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad - 500 060, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2249-4987.172499

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It was only toward the close of the last century that women emancipated themselves from their former small territory of usefulness in a strictly domestic life, and pushing forward, proved themselves often the business equal to men and sometimes their superior. If was long before this progression, when a women in business or professional ranks was almost a curiosity. When women first entered the profession, they faced many obstacles. Mentors or faculty in the dental organizations majority were male restraining women by all means. In the beginning, men were resentful because they feel women are inferior. It took a long time for women to become a consistent presence in dental schools. In the beginning, dental schools used to admit one or two women each year, later the number increased slowly. Olden day's women used to relieve not even the tooth ache but also used to relieve others fret also. But histories of dentistry were not acknowledged the talent of women whatsoever. The efforts and achievements of women punch the clock in the future dentistry. The current scenario has totally changed now. Nearly, half of all dental students' are women and 25% of them are practicing dentists. Only 3% women dentists were there before the 1970s. [1] Women struggled to obtain a degree, to establish practices, and are respected as professionals. Some women choose this rewarding occupation as career followed by their family members. The population tally of chosen work upbringing has changed over time. This paper reports in a delineative way of the amelioration, staggering presence, and intendment of dentistry practicing by worldwide women.

Keywords: Dental career, dentistry, education, occupation, pioneers, profession

How to cite this article:
Prasanna JS, Karunakar P, Sumadhura C, Aishwarya MD, Monica P, Sayed AS. Women dentists: Changing the face of dentistry. J Oral Res Rev 2015;7:69-73

How to cite this URL:
Prasanna JS, Karunakar P, Sumadhura C, Aishwarya MD, Monica P, Sayed AS. Women dentists: Changing the face of dentistry. J Oral Res Rev [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 May 31];7:69-73. Available from: https://www.jorr.org/text.asp?2015/7/2/69/172499

  Introduction Top

Past 50 years women had come a meandering way. During the spring time of women instituted as a dental profession, they faced many insults by male professionals and were looked down upon as subordinates. Today straight away many dental, medical, and the research laboratories in India are employing women that change has quietly begun challenging the conventional male ideas. In spite of all these considerable gain in equity of status, many women in many fields still face innumerable barricades to their careers.

In medical specialty, there are distinctive schools to train women, but there is no such dental school for women until date. This clearly shows corroborate discrimination on male. Even in the United States until 1972 [1],[2] only 3% were female dentists, 12% were physicians, and 5% were veterinaries. [3]

Hundred years of literature has been clearly showing that women were bigoted from the dental profession by all means. Inaptitude physical and mental demands of women may also one of the acumens. If at all they crossed such hurdles and become professional, often reiterates the belief that their practices should be limited to treat other women and children. If women be on feet they should nail down as a helpmate, coadjutant, auxiliaries, and more overused them to keep the offices tidy.

Slowly the scenario was changed, and women become part and parcel of dentistry. Women of China were unenthusiastic to get services from male doctors of the Western medicine.

This custom helped in developing a being in want of female doctors. Foreign missions board of the Presbyterian Church (USA) [3] has sent Dr. Mary H. Fulton to China to find the first medical college for women, in between the years 1854 and 1927. [3] Because of constraint demand in dental manpower, the consequential number of women marked up gives thumbs up to dental schools. Unobtainable task becomes obtainable. Women desideratum comes true. There are many reasons the male dictated walk of life subtended by women dentists. The unimaginable castle in the air becomes substantial zed. It provides a delightful living, can set their own hours perfect for mothers with children.

To prepare dentists for general practice, dental schools focused on basic sciences and mechanical skills since 1840 to 1900. [3] In anticipation, women used to prefer few specialties only in the past 100 years. Forthwith straightaway the orderliness changed, women are well-represented in all wide variety of postgraduate specialties. The era has started where the women are no longer regarded as out of sphere in dentistry.

  Discussion Top

If we retrospect the history come out with the truth that not much reversal over the past century. First women consummate DDS degree in the year 1866 in the United States. [3] She inter clasped a small number of pioneer women dentists in next 7 years. In the United States, from that day forward over and above 100 years later in 1970 women rumored for insignificant proportion that is of 3.4% of the 90,801 practicing dentists. In the US schools of dentistry, only 0.9% were women among 1 st year students as in a bind as1968-1969. [4],[5],[6] The conscription of female students had risen to 11.2% in the year 1974-1975. [7],[8] This is the strong evidence that battle royal antipodeans' among sex-stereotyping health professions started.

One of the numinous books of the Jews by name Talmud intercommunicated a women's proficiency in reducing dental pain. Ancient Greece and Roman empires found women in different branches of medicine and pharmaceutics. An entire set of teeth was fudge together by Lady of Buddha or Buddhist priestess Nakaoka Tei, known as Hotokehime, in the 14 th century for herself. It is a big abundance eyewitness that beautifully carved cherry wood denture is displayed in the Tokyo museum until now. Goddess Meditrina is another example that her sculpture was placed in the National Museum of Antiquities of Saint Germaine and France. [9]

Slowly women in walk of life, they become sure enough and indefectible to reach the level of put across their views in a book form. Few examples, Saint Hildegard of Binge summarized her book in medical sciences by name "liber simplicis medicinae (book of simple medicine)" which was published in regard to medieval European medicine in 1099-1179. She attributed the dental treatments based on herbs and also mentioned the need of drain the dental abscess to facilitate the expulsion of pus. Now this literary work became the basic treatment on the subject during the following centuries. [9]

In the 14 th century, a medical book of Rolando de Parma spoken of that a bandage was placed over the jaw of a patient, to stabilize fracture by a wonderful women. Wives, daughters, and sisters of many male doctors were used to assist them in quick succession. The famed fact was that in Europe, 16 th , 17 th , and 18 th centuries there were many proliferated phlebotomist-barbers. This period was very enchasing period for women, used to assist these phlebotomist-barbers for bloodletting and dental extractions in public squares, fairs, and roads. [10],[11],[12]

Women were reluctant to practice medicine during the colonial years because it was brought from Spain. Even a single female student was not registered in the medical school of Royal and Pontific University of Mexico during this time. Some extent Mayans medical practice was carried out by women in the 16 th century; this was communicated by Fray Diego de Landa. Mayans had a consuetude to sharpen their teeth for purposes of graciousness; old women used to do this job by using certain rocks and water. Otherwise, men barber phlebotomists performed tooth extractions and bloodletting. [13]

The 18 th and 19 th centuries were an undesirable period for women medical practitioners; there was out-and-out prosecution of women in medicine, they were punished to extent of death sentence. Due to this intellection, a lady would get a place in medical schools became incredible. Incontestably, their activities were limited. Women who had knowledge of healing used to practice with fright insidiously without leaving any remnant of their activity. Some countries like France, science go through to provoke women to break into dentistry. [14]

A brief dentistry treatise written by madam Reze which published a few years before in Dental Surgery, previously used to call Pierre Fauchard's "Le Chirurgien Dentiste" was published.

Through this, she conveyed the message that France was a winsome place for female dental assistants in the 18 th century. Reze used a balm which was a medic-ant for many dental problems. She brings about satisfied results. The detergent and astringent qualities of this balm get rid of bad odor, cleanse wasting away teeth, amalgamate teeth, healing agent for festers or small boils that appears on gums and also dissipates scurvy. [14],[15]

That was footing time, in Paris, Rue Rivoli clinic Madame Ana, announced herself as a "dentist for women." She was an eminent dentist, and she used to look after the teeth of members of royal Duchess of Angouleme. Sooner or later at the end of the century, Helen Purkis propagandize in the city's newspapers that she can eventually perform "pain less tooth replacement, cauterize, and cast gold fillings." Such similar two cases were proclaimed in the 19 th century of Spanish history. These women overcame numerous obstacles to devote themselves to dentistry. [16],[17],[18],[19]

In the 19 th century, dentistry was taking its fast track in countries like Mexico. Anne Marie page is one of the first few dentists, advertised in Mexican newspapers that she arrived to city particularly to attend beautiful Mexican ladies. She overtures the services like caustic medicaments, leeches application, minor surgical procedures, and open cuttings for convenient prices. And also offers powders, opiates, and essences that are useful to heal mouth pain as well as teeth and to conserve the oral health. [20],[21]

One of the first French women dentists Mademoiselle Duval, faculty of Paris, after 50 years given the first add saying that she can workable on teeth which requires prosthetic and gold fillings, can perform extractions without pain, free lessons in peri-ostitis, fistula, scurvy ulcers, and cancer. The majority of her patrons was formed mainly by women because that time men were very possessive of other men not to touch their wives' or daughters' faces. [21]

The choice to earn a livelihood for women was narrowed until the 19 th century. At the end of the19 th century, the scene swims against the stream. Lower classes ladies could work in factories and serve as household employees in flourishing tobacco industries, middle-lower class ladies could opt for self-taught daily grind works like sewing or nursing. [22]

Margarita Chorney Salazar became the first dentist to graduate in 1886, [23] from Mexico City. This young lady was apprentice from her father dental clinic, and she completed her training under the guidance of doctor Chacon. Margarita cleared her final exams under three prestigious teachers formed as jury from the medical school who were hard-boiled in meticulously asking questions. Miss. Chorney had prepared so meticulously and answered every question without trouble in Spanish as well as in French. The gathering that filled the venue was silently give ear and pleasantly surprised to hear the candidate answers given by her. This news spreads in numerous comments both on the side of as well as conflicting. But ultimately she has become the pioneer competitor in dentistry paving the way for other women. [24],[25],[26]

Mexican columnist was precarious, facing extinction that women may not look after their families because of unfolding professional changeability, which may also be a myth. In 1908, French government glorified doctor Chorney, who was graduated in a liberal profession as she was the first Latin-American woman and she continued her profession later 40 years. Margarita had given a great leap to women put in place unconditionally into male dominated society as a wife or companion and also as a collaborator or competitor. Cleotilde Castaneda in 1890 and Monica Correa in 1896, these two ladies had followed Margarita's footsteps at the end of the 19 th century. Female dentists made conspicuous overture in the last two decenniums of that centennial: They methodized in work unions, publishing magazines, organized world congresses, and made proposals to create dental schools. [25],[27],[28]

  The Twentieth Century Top

The 20 th century is the swivel time in history, in which women revolutionized their fortunes and follow through many opportunities. Birth control and professional practice were two key factors which brought this triumph. [29],[30],[31]

Mexico City, the first dental school, was inaugurated in 1904, and named "Consultorio Nacional de Ensenanza Dental." Seven students were enrolled in the 1 st year, among them three graduated in 3 years. A young lady, Clara Rosas from Tabasco was one of the enrollers among them. She gave the end of the line to course in 3 years and acquired very high marks. She was the pioneer women to finish a race of career also started practicing especially orthodontics. She also got the open door to join as teaching staff for her aptness. In 1911, she proposed a plan to meliorate the dental faculty program. Dr. Rosas was dumbstruck that North American schools were disavowing women enrollment. [32],[33],[34],[35]

Angelica Aviles and Maria Luisa Rojo, these two ladies inspired and emanated in dentistry. Dr. Rojo delighted out admissible practice. She became an academician and her piece of writing titled "the rights and obligations of dental surgeons" was published in the Mexican Dentistry Bulletin in the year 1925. [32] By the end of the thirties, the female population amplified to one-third. By then there was marked up dental schools in the country. [36],[37],[38]

The no of blossoming female practitioners multiplied in the forties and fifties. Ernestina Martinez Espinosa was an acclaimed pathology teacher; accredit the author of multifarious pharmacology articles. And she was also a distinguished case newshound at the Hospital General de Mexico, where after 60 years also she was assisting "woman of the year" award in 1968 title-holder was Isabel Carreon, she was practicing orthodontics. Maria Elena Orta, Maria Elena Castro Carruba, and Fanny Sanchez Mora were few tribute pioneering women who were teaching pedodontics. Dr. Alicia Lao de la Vega got the invitation to attend the seminars of the USC group as a first woman. Her graduation was completed in 1946, immediately under the discipline of Dr. George Moore she was camp on the doorstep of a postgraduate course in orthodontics at the Michigan Dental School University. She anamnesis other postgraduate women, all they were be a component of other nationalities. She reappears in Mexico to start a long and fructiferous academic career, even after 54 years she practiced her profession impetuosity, legitimately she deserves a special mention. [39],[40],[41] Estelle Villarreal became the first person upstairs to dental faculty, in contempt of upsurge number of women teaching staff in the proliferating dental schools. This outstanding point of compass took place at the dental school Punjab; in 1962. This bring to pass in other parts of the country also. There was no record of women in associations to consecrated further dental studies, before the establishment of the Mexican Dental Association (MDA). [15],[17] Ana Tizcareno became the first woman president of this association in 1988. Before the coming there was no lady evocative play part in the constitution act of the MDA because four were female among the 111 individuals. Some other substantial posts in dental societies and study groups imperceptibly, clocked up by other women. Some aforementioned doctors at the dental association of distrito federal were Artemisa Hernandez, Cristina Eguiarte, and Yolanda Villarreal.Margarita Chorne formed the first all-female study groups FEMO; this was another virtue of point out. [23],[35] The numbers of women cataloged in dental schools move up to 55% during 70s. Many women stick to the profession or returning to practice still abandons their profession after marriage for motherhood, although that was a rare situation. [42]

As mentioned earlier before 70's, dentistry was dominated by male, after that slowly women revolution started. In Western world of the US population, very lowest percentage were women dentists, roughly half of the dentists were women in Greece, one-third in France, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark and four-fifth in Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Russia. Now the total sequence of the event was changed, the wave of women dentists surging through dentistry at present.

What precipitated this gender shift? Internet Society (ISOC) was attempted to discover the impacts of this gender shift in dentistry. [43]

  • In 1960's, early 1970's federal legislation funded grants for the attendant, and encouragement of enrollments of women in professional health schools. Not even this women's liberation and civil rights movements step forward.
  • Second, there was a far-reaching step of 1976 constitutional amendment, which includes education in the concurrent list. New education policy of 1986 and revised education policy of 1992 make a pitch for women's higher education.
  • Third standpoint which opened the doors of women's professional career was birth control because of this majority of the women can choose when to have a child.

All these developments were boons which changed and popularized the idea of women as doctors. Federal legislation, even though a helpful tool, without birth control all these changes would have not made it possible to make a determination of professional career.

I would like to abolish this article by salient thoughts published by Dr. Samuel Fastlicht in the MDA magazine in the year 1975. [44]

The leading edge, in dispersion through dentistry, there are many outstanding female proficient that were talented in oral surgery, orthodontics, and periodontists come next. Female endodontists are accomplishing beautiful gold inlays. We should acquiesce that many of the women dentists impart their commencements harmoniously as clinicians, working in hospitals and serving our country in many ways, all of them belong to our team. We should be obliged the role played by land grant college system, where we are today. Some women ring out with as teachers in various regions to turn out the other women to create history and to become the backbone of the progressive era.

Women are knocking the bottom out of in all means including dental profession. The ratio of dentists to the population has considerably decreased, during the past few years. Dentistry was cast aside, ahead of time. As of now the imposition of dentistry is greater than ever before. The cognizance of sound teeth to general health was very well-established. Now a day's perceptible women are seen in all specialties, we should definitely be oblige the academic role-playing by them. The inventiveness of attainment is depart from each individual, the people who thought of reprehensible might poke holes in by showing the change created by them for the profession and society. In the face of innumerable changes, still there is diminution number of women dental graduates; 1:55 is a practicing women dentist. Women those have fascination, dexterity, and the persuasion to succeed in dentistry will have a promising future in this field.

  Conclusion Top

The women who had shown the way in dentistry, worth recognize and admiration of their worthiness. They set the walkway for the dental profession by breaking gender and traditional barriers. All the health professions have pioneer women in their branches like Elizabeth Blackwell in medicine; Florence Nightingale was in nursing, similarly Lucy Taylor Hobbs and Henriette Hirschfeld were in dentistry. Now a day's larger part, almost 50% of dental students was women in the majority of the dental schools. By the year 2020, encompassed women pertinent in all dental practitioners in the country are nearly 20%.Granting all this, women are exceeding in number than men in entire nationwide colleges, this change in direction of the gender gap is a present-day paradox. This valiant struggle proceeds with many tenacious women transversely for many years and across many countries. As the generations are passing, we women have started to contribute to jobs that were initially not meant or jobs only done by men and at the same time we are ready to put in the same effort as men in various career paths. The only people who can change the world are the group of caring and committed ones. We must commit to accomplishment in the forefront a more adumbrative no of women into top transcendence positions transversely in our profession. As we progress as leaders in the future, it is inevitable to ensure future successes, hold sway over by women dentists. Let us do all that what we can do to nail down to make evident that we are crowning glory.


Thanks to (1) Rekha Rani K. (2) Afsa S. Sayed (3) Monika P., (4) Jaya Prada P.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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