Today, there are 198,517 dentists working in the field of dentistry. Of these, slightly more than 60,000 are women according to the American Dental Association. Currently, women have access to all medical professions, but that wasn’t always the case.
Who Was the First Female Dentist in the U.S.?
The first American women to graduate from dental school was Lucy Hobbs Taylor and she earned her degree in 1866. Before this milestone, and even for decades after, most women didn’t dream of a career in dentistry. Taylor, however, opened the door to this field and continues to be an inspiration for girls everywhere.
Born in the heart of the Adirondack Lake region in Constable, NY, Taylor first obtained a position as a teacher, which was one of the few career options open to women in 1849. However, she had always been drawn to the field of medicine. Reading continuously about medicine, she decided to relocate to Cincinnati so she could attend the only medical school in the nation that allowed women to attend in that day—the Eclectic College of Medicine.
Unfortunately, after moving to this city and applying for acceptance, the college informed her that it had stopped accepting women into its programs. This road block did not stop Taylor from persisting. She met with a professor who, upon recognizing her aptitude, was willing to tutor her in a private capacity. He suggested she consider the field of dentistry and she agreed.
Taylor studied and earned considerable respect for her talents, but she was still refused acceptance into dental school. Like many practitioners of the day, she struck out on her own without the official degree and began to practice dentistry in a private capacity. She was just 28 years old. Yet, her skill and renown grew. In 1865, the male dentists of Iowa, where she practiced, elected her to the Iowa State Dental Society. In the following year, the Ohio College of Dental Surgery admitted her and she was finally able to earn her official dental degree in 1866.
Appointments are Available at Riverdale Park Dental
Riverdale Park Dental celebrates Lucy Hobbs Taylor as well as other women who enter our remarkable field. If you’re having a dental issue or simply need a checkup, be sure to contact us to schedule your appointment.