Since March is Women’s History Month, we thought it would be fitting to recognize America’s first female dentist: Lucy Hobbs Taylor. Throughout Lucy’s life, she made significant contributions to the dental community despite being originally denied access to two of the most prestigious dental universities in the nation. Over 150 years ago, Lucy found a way to follow her passion by studying dentistry in secret, opening her own practice, and being involved with the women’s suffrage movement.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at the life and accomplishments of Lucy Hobbs Taylor: America’s first female dentist.
Born on March 14, 1833, Lucy grew up in upstate New York where she quickly developed the dream of becoming a doctor. Apart from her schooling, she would take on the time-consuming effort to study medical science all on her own. Since women were not admitted into medical schools at the time, Lucy had to make sure her studies were conducted in secret. Upon graduating from high school, Lucy took on the temporary position of working as a school teacher. However, on the side, she remained dedicated to her dream and independent studies.
Eventually, Hobbs Taylor met a private school professor that was willing to teach her about the medical field in private. Witnessing her talent and passion for her studies, the professor quickly determined her to be a great candidate for dental school. On top of her passion, he strongly believed that dentistry would be the ideal profession for her as to not meet against unnecessary hostility.
Lucy continued her private schooling at the Ohio College of Dental Surgery. However, regardless of her studies and passion, she was still denied official entry and a degree from the college due to her gender.
In 1861, Lucy decided to open her own dental practice despite not having her degree. Her first practice opened in Cincinnati and then grew to a few smaller towns in Iowa. Although she had no official training or degree to show for it, she remained confident in her dream and the skills she had obtained over time. As Lucy garnered the respect and support from her male peers, she was elected in 1865 to join the Iowa State Dental Society. This dental organization became the first recognized group to accept women in the United States. Shortly after, the society selected Lucy as a delegate for the American Dental Association convention.
After a series of awards and honors coupled with years of experience, Lucy was finally given official entry to the Ohio College of Dental Surgery. As one of the first dedicated dental schools in the country, she persevered to become America’s first female dentist to earn a doctorate of dental surgery (DDS) degree in February of 1866.
She continued her profession in general dentistry and focused heavily on family dental care. Into the late 1800s, she performed procedures still practiced today such as:
- Fitted Dentures
- Sedation in Dentistry
- Crowns and Inlays/Outlays
In addition to her recognition as the first American female dentist, Lucy was known for her gentle disposition with her patients.
Did you know America’s First Female Dentist?
Lucy Hobbs Taylor became involved in the women’s suffrage movement, opening doors for women across the country professionally. She continued practicing dentistry until she passed away at the age of 77 in 1910. The women who followed Lucy’s path grew steadily throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. Thanks to strong-willed women, like Lucy Hobbs Taylor, the dental association has made long-lasting positive strides for better dental care across America.
If you’re excited to learn more about our dental community, contact North View Dental today. They will be more than happy to help guide you through your dental care and keep you happy and healthy!