Lucy Hobbs Taylor was the first known American woman to enroll in dental school. The year was 1865 and in the three decades that followed, a yearly average of just six women graduated from dental schools in the United States. A lot has changed since then.
Women Making Their Mark in Dentistry
Dental medicine has seen a gradual but steady increase in female applicants to dental school programs. “For context, my wife Dr. Brenda Harman was one of two females in a class of 160 when she entered dental school in 1971,” said Dr. William Harman, Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Services for the College of Dental Medicine. In the last 20 years, the number of women practicing dentistry in the United States has more than doubled to the current figure of approximately 60,000. And while women currently comprise just 32% of the active dental workforce, 2018 was the first year in which female dental school enrollees nationwide outnumbered their male counterparts at 50.5%.
In addition, American Dental Association (ADA) statistics show that close to half (49%) of US dentists under the age of 35 are women. If current trends continue, practicing female dentists will outnumber their male counter parts within the next decade. Similarly, the first class of dental students enrolled at Roseman University in 2011 was comprised of 22% female students. Today, the current enrollment of female students is 47%. And, the current applicant pool reflects a 50/50 split between male and female applicants.
Future of Dentistry
According to the ADA, female dentists continue to face unique challenges in the profession, but they have found and continue to find opportunities to move dentistry forward, contributing in various fields including academia, science and research, organized dentistry and advocacy. As male dentists of the baby boomer generation retire, the next era in dental medicine is likely to be led by women. “The boomers are retiring at a high rate of close to 10,000 per year,” said Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, DMD, the current (and first female) executive director of the ADA. “We are seeing a significant exodus of white males and a huge influx of women. Diverse women and millennials will become the majority of ADA members in the next five to 10 years,” she said. Fourth year dental student and president of the Roseman College of Dental Medicine Class of 2021, Heather Nichols, adds additional perspective, “I have noticed that many of my male classmates have entered the field of dentistry as a second career,” she said. “Whereas many of my female classmates have pursued their doctoral degrees after entering dental medicine as assistants, admins or hygienists,” she continued. “I found the contrast interesting as it occurred to me that women seldom get the luxury of changing careers.”
Dental medicine appeals to women interested in pursuing doctoral degrees for a variety of reasons, but key commonalities have emerged. For instance, female dentists may choose to work in clinical settings that offer flexible working hours and reduced administrative responsibilities. When you consider that women account for half of the US workforce, yet are still responsible for over 60% of household duties (for married of cohabitating heterosexual couples), flexibility in working hours is a key benefit for female practitioners seeking worklife balance.
Dr. Cherish Dunshee graduated from the College of Dental Medicine in 2020 having served as class president for two years and serving as president of the Dental Student Association. “I am now the breadwinner of the family for the first time in my nine-year marriage,” she said. “It’s been the greatest joy for me to provide for my family after being in school for so long, and to see my husband be so supportive and helpful with our one-year old daughter. He goes above and beyond what most fathers do.”
Mentoring the Next Generation
The availability and role of mentors is another key differentiator for women pursing dentistry. Mentorship is an important underpinning of women’s success in dentistry. Mentors don’t just pave the way for mentees’ success at dental school and in practice; they share invaluable wisdom and insights learned through their experiences in a male-dominated profession. “Having female dentists as role models is incredibly important to career decisions at all ages,” said Dr. Harman. College of Dental Medicine faculty, Dr. Angela Christensen agrees. “When I ask a little girl if she wants to be a dentist when she grows up, I see the thought has never occurred to her and then I see excitement as she realizes she could be a dentist too!,” she said. “It is rewarding to open minds to see all the options available. Our patients are (about) 50% female and thus 50% of our dentists are also.”
This is not lost on female dental students who are mindful of the work done by those who have come before. College of Dental Medicine alumnus Dr. Nadine El Ayouty, who served as president of the Class of 2020 and is currently in a post-doctoral program at The Ohio State University added, “The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg stated, ‘Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.’ I am proud to be part of the next generation of women in dentistry where we are no longer minorities in the field but slowly the majority; becoming leaders in our educational institutions and communities.”
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) Awareness Month takes place every November with the purpose of educating the public about the realities of TMJ disorders. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, estimates suggest that TMJ disorders affect over 10 million Americans.
What is TMJ?
TMJ is a hinge that connects the jaw to the temporal bone of the skull. There is one joint on each side of the jaw. This joint works together with supporting jaw muscles and ligaments to help an individual talk, chew, and yawn by moving the jaw up and down, and side to side.
Because this joint is so small and delicate, it’s prone to becoming damaged, inflamed or irritated. When this occurs, an individual might experience issues with chewing, speaking or opening their mouth, and suffer from severe pain and discomfort.
What is TMD?
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) is the term used to refer to the various disorders that can affect the temporomandibular joint.
What causes TMD?
The TMJ combines a hinge action with gliding motions. The parts that interact in the joint are shielded with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk which keeps the movement smooth. Although the exact cause of the condition is not clear, there are several factors that may increase the risk of developing TMD.
Causes and possible risk factors include:
Deterioration of the disk through various types of autoimmune diseases
Jaw injury or dislocation due to trauma from an accident
Overuse through excessive gum chewing or teeth grinding and/or clenching
Tooth or jaw alignment
Infection or inflammation in the chewing muscles
What are the Symptoms of TMD?
An individual with TMD often experiences severe pain and discomfort. It can be temporary or last several years and might affect one of both sides of the face. TMJ disorders are known to affect more women than men and are most commonly found in those between the ages of 20 and 40.
Common symptoms include:
Pain or tenderness in the TMJ or jaw muscles
Locking of TMJ – making it difficult to open or close the mouth
Clicking sound or grating sensation when opening the mouth or chewing
Tension in the face, neck and shoulders
A change in teeth alignment
Treatment Options for TMD
Most TMJ disorders are self-limiting, therefore a conservative approach is best. This approach includes eating soft foods, avoiding repetitive function (gum chewing, biting nails, ice chewing), modifying pain with heat packs, and practicing relaxation techniques to minimize tension. A dentist may recommend exercises to strengthen the jaw muscles, medications, or a night guard or bite plate to decrease grinding or clenching.
Care at Roseman Dental
Patients experiencing symptoms associated with a TMJ disorder, needing help to treat pain, jaw dysfunction, or restoration of bite can visit Roseman Dental. To find out how to become a patient of Roseman Dental at Roseman University College of Dental Medicine, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us at the location closest to you. Roseman Dental is here to help in eliminating the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders.
Becoming a dentist can result in an abundance of professional possibilities. Besides private practice options, dental school graduates can teach future dentists, travel with international health and relief organizations, work in hospital emergency rooms, or conduct advanced laboratory research.
Choosing a Dental School
There are over 65 dental schools in the United States accredited by the ADA’s Commission on Dental Accreditation. Each program is meticulously assessed to ensure compliance with quality and content standards. Typically, DMD and DDS programs take four years to complete. Additional years are necessary for dental specialties such as Pediatric Dentistry and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. When choosing a dental school, factors to consider include:
• Grading system
• Geographical location
• Combination programs
• Student-to-faculty ratio
• Required laboratory work
• Community-centric vs. larger, clinical experience
Admission to dental school is highly competitive, but the application process is straightforward. In fact, many U.S. dental schools utilize the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service enabling you to submit one online application and send it to a variety of schools.
Researching Dental School Programs
Where you attend dental school is a significant decision requiring a lot of research. Start with the dental school guidebook from the American Dental Association to help you rule out certain schools that don’t meet your criteria. When narrowing down your list of dental schools, don’t rule out your ideal school right away, even if it seems out of reach due to the program cost or academic standards. It may end up being attainable with further research.
Completing the Dental School Application Process
Keep your options open and don’t make a quick decision. Before submitting your applications, make sure to narrow down your options to the dental school programs that best align with your goals and objectives. That way you can realize your dream of achieving a rewarding career as a dentist. The result is a sustainable work-life balance and competitive salary in the health care industry.
Keep Roseman University College of Dental Medicine in Mind
If you are interested in a career in dentistry, Roseman has a 4 year Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree located at our South Jordan, UT campus. The College of Dental Medicine (CODM) utilizes Roseman’s innovative Six-Point Mastery Learning Model, with courses organized in a block curriculum. Rather than competing with other students to achieve high grades on a “curve”, students work together and everyone is expected to achieve competency at a high level in order to progress through the program.
Students at Roseman CODM also experience a unique classroom setting, with interactive and immersive technology, and state-of-the-art equipment that allows students and faculty to connect using a variety of instructional techniques, moving beyond the traditional lecture format. Reimagine your future with Roseman University.
Are you still in high school, or do you have a child still figuring out what career to pursue? The options are limitless, but there are certain advantages to getting into the dentistry field. If you are interested in helping others or playing a key role in your community, then becoming a dentist might be the right career choice for you.
Dentists Help Others
One of the most rewarding things in any career is the knowledge that people depend on you and that you are making a difference in people’s lives. You will be helping people maintain healthier lives and improving their smiles for a better appearance. Additionally, part of the job will include identifying risk factors for disease and working with other healthcare professionals to identify signs of cardiovascular disease, manage diabetes, and spot cancer, so you can even save people’s lives.
Dentists are in High Demand
Every city needs dentists, and people of all ages require dental care. From small children to senior citizens, everyone needs access to high-quality dental procedures. With an aging population in the country, the demand is only going to increase in the coming years, so there will certainly be opportunities available to you once you are out of school.
Be Your Own Boss as a Dentist
Being your own boss is highly desirable to many people, and it is a real possibility when you get into dentistry. If you feel like it is time, then you can open up your own practice. This also makes dentistry a highly lucrative career to get into financially. The amount you will be able to make will depend on where exactly in the country you live, but for the most part, dentists are well paid.
If you have never considered a career as a dentist before, then you should seriously start considering it. The benefits are great, and it is a highly rewarding career. For any high schoolers out there, start looking at the schools you should go to in order to have the biggest leg-up when you graduate.
While you might have a basic understanding of tooth decay, there’s likely much about the topic you don’t yet know. A deeper understanding of your oral health allows you to know when you have a problem that is likely to take care of itself and when you have one that requires a professional treatment from a dentist. Learn more about tooth decay and how to take the best care of your pearly whites.
Age Makes a Difference in Tooth Decay
One of the first things to know about tooth decay is that it’s more common now than ever in children and babies. A child’s teeth aren’t as developed or strong as an adult’s, so acids, plaque and bacteria will eat away at their teeth. Eating and drinking habits for small children also impact oral health, with many parents not realizing the harmful effects of giving a child a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk or juice when they go to sleep, or to drink throughout the day. Snacking on things like fruit snacks, starchy crackers, or sugary treats throughout the day—called “grazing”—is also harmful to a child’s teeth.
Recognizing the Signs of Tooth Decay
Knowing what tooth decay looks like is another essential component of treating it. Indications of tooth decay include:
Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
Inflammation of the gums around a sore tooth, which is also a sign of an abscessed tooth
An ongoing or recurring toothache
Properly Diagnosing Tooth Decay
To rule out an abscess and anything else that might be going on with your teeth, your dentist will make sure you actually have tooth decay in order to prescribe proper treatment. You’ll likely be asked questions about your medical and dental history before the dentist uses a small mirror to examine your teeth. You might also have X-rays taken of your mouth and teeth to better pinpoint which of your teeth may be decayed. Common treatments for tooth decay that has worked through tooth enamel include fillings, crowns, tooth extraction and root canals.
Oral health is a large component of your overall health. By taking good care of your teeth, you’re taking equally good care of the rest of your body as well.
The recommendation that you visit your dentist at least twice a year certainly isn’t anything new, but when you get to your dental office you might notice that there are several things that are changing about the way you receive care and interact with the staff and the dentist. Today’s dentists are increasingly embracing technology as a way to offer a higher level of care and a more streamlined visit. Here are just a few of the trends you might see next time you visit your dentist.
Minimally Invasive Treatments
You might not believe it, but dentists don’t like drilling your teeth any more than you like having them drilled. Fortunately with advances in dental technology and treatment methods, more and more procedures can be performed in a way that is “minimally invasive”. The goal with these treatments is to conserve as much of your healthy tooth structure as possible, removing the least amount of natural tooth to achieve a long-lasting positive result. Fixing crooked teeth and other malocclusions has also become easier and less invasive with products like Invisalign®, while advances in treating cavities and other oral health-related problems have led to better and longer-lasting outcomes.
Another improvement to dental treatment in recent years is the more widespread use of dental implants to improve the appearance and function of your teeth without damaging or impacting the teeth that surround it. Dental implants or implant-supported dentures have quickly become a popular option for many people who have damaged or missing teeth, although they are not an option in every case. Visit The Dental Clinic at Roseman University to find out more about dental implants if you think you might be a candidate.
Technology in the Dental Office
Rapid advances in technology have impacted the way we do business, the way we communicate, and our overall health and wellness—including dental health. Today many dentists are using digital CAD/CAM technology (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing); with a small wand about the size and shape of an electric toothbrush, your dentist can create a digital image of your mouth and the shape of oral structures inside.
“Traditional impressions that record the shape and configuration of teeth and mouth can often be replaced with scans from laser or LED light cameras. The digital file is sent to a 3D printer or milling machine to create a model made of lightweight, durable resin,” said Dr. Doug Ashman, a professor at Roseman University College of Dental Medicine. “The advantage of this approach, beyond the obvious improvement in the patient’s comfort, is the increased accuracy of the digital impression and the ability to store and retrieve the image at a later time, as needed.”
Similar technology can be used to create crowns and fixed bridges, and with the help of sophisticated software, the dentist can create a uniquely designed and perfectly shaped crown ready for implant, often in just a matter of minutes while the patient waits in the dental chair.
Other technology you might start to see at your dental office includes software and apps that allow you to schedule appointments with ease, fill in your health history prior to arriving at the dentist’s office, and get things like text and voicemail reminders when it’s time for your appointment.
While the trends in dental medicine are improving the way patients receive treatment and interact with their dental office, there is one trend that is never going away: having a healthy smile and a healthy mouth will always be in style.