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Dental History: The First Female to Earn a Dental Degree

Posted on July 28, 2022

In the United States, women have made great strides in dentistry. Historically, most schools only accepted male students, which meant that women had to above and beyond to train for years before being accepted into such schools. However, things have changed over time, and men and women alike join dental schools based on merit.

Women Dentists’ History

Though dentistry was studied and practiced in North America long before women were able to participate in the field, it was not until the late 1800s that women began enrolling for dental degrees. According to the California Association of Orthodontists, Hobbs Taylor was the first female dentist to earn an actual degree in North America (1833 – 1910).

Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor

Dr. Hobbs Taylor became the first woman to graduate in dentistry in the United States. She graduated from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in 1866. At that time, the majority of dentists were men licensed by their states without formal training, as dentistry was considered a trade and not a profession. At the time, a woman dentist or orthodontist was deemed inferior to men in terms of ability or experience. Hobbs Taylor surged ahead to become the first female dentist in Ohio and later became a member of the American Dental Association.

Dr. Carrie Gertrude Locke

The first female orthodontist in the United States, Dr. Carrie Gertrude Locke, was a pioneer who charted the way for other women to enter the field. In fact, she went on to help found the American Society of Orthodontists, which was formed in 1901 and later became the American Association of Orthodontists.

Dr. Locke was born in 1869 in New Hampshire. She graduated from the Boston Dental College in 1895. After graduation, this orthodontist changed the landscape, and many more women joined the profession. Dr. Locke was an active orthodontist who promoted women’s rights and equal opportunity in dentistry throughout her career.

Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor and Dr. Carrie Gertrude Locke are two of the incredible women who paved the road for future generations of female professionals. Your teeth deserve the best care, and we’re here to help you find the orthodontist who will keep them in good working order. Contact Silver Smiles today to schedule a consultation with Atlanta orthodontist, Dr. Meagan Sturm.


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