Celebrate with us this International Women’s Day as we recognize some of the groundbreaking women in American dentistry! There are far too many women who have made significant impacts on dentistry in America for us to list here, but we’ve tried to touch on some of the earliest pioneers. Are there others you want to see included? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
Emeline Robert Jones:
First woman to practice dentistry
In 1855, Emeline Robert Jones began practicing dentistry in Connecticut. Married to a dentist – who felt that the profession was not appropriate for women – Emeline secretly studied the art. After she presented him with a jar of teeth that he had extracted, which she had secretly filled, he allowed her to serve as his assistant. She continued to practice herself after his death in 1864.
Lucy Hobbs Taylor:
First woman to graduate in dentistry
Lucy Hobbs Taylor began her education in dentistry in the mid-1800s when a professor from a dental college in Ohio agreed to tutor her when the Ohio dental school she applied to rejected her due to her gender. She applied to another school, was again rejected, and continued tutorship under another dental graduate. Lucy opened her own practice in 1861 and, four years later, was admitted to the Ohio College of Dentistry. She graduated in 1866, making her the first woman to earn a doctorate in dentistry in America.
First African-American woman to graduate in dentistry
Ida Gray began work in the offices of John Taft, an early advocate of women in dentistry, and became interested in the practice herself. In 1890, she became the first African-American female to graduate from dental school when she graduated from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.
First female president of the American Academy of Periodontology
Gillette Hayden was the third woman to graduate from Ohio Medical university (1916). Her short but impactful career included helping to found the American Academy of Periodontology, which she presided over in 1916.