Historical Women in Dentistry

    March is filled with so many special days that we often celebrate or engage with. St. Patrick’s Day, daylight savings, the first day of Spring, Pi Day, but did you know that March is also Women’s History Month? Women’s history month is a celebration of the role of women in American history, so let’s dive in together!

HISTORY OF WOMEN’S MONTH

   The origin of women’s history month as a national celebration started in 1981 when Congress passed Public Law 97-28, designating the week beginning of March 7th, 1982, as “Women’s History Week”. Between the years of 1988 – 1994, Congress passed resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to declare March of every year to be known as “Women’s History Month”, and it worked. Since 1995, Presidents have been issuing proclamations declaring March as women’s history month which celebrates the contributions and achievements women have made to the United States.

So, with no further ado, we bring you the trailblazing women of dentistry!

DR. LUCY HOBBS TAYLOR

    Born Lucy Beaman Hobbs on March 14th, 1833, in Constable, New York, in 1859, Hobbs moved to Ohio to pursue a degree in dentistry. She was denied admission at the Eclectic Medical College and the Ohio College of Dentistry in Cincinnati because she was a woman. A recent graduate of one of the schools, Dr. Samuel Wardle, agreed to tutor Hobbs in an apprenticeship at his new office. Later, she opened her own practice in 1861. Hobbs moved her practice to northern Iowa in 1862 and became a member of the Iowa State Dental Society and served as a delegate to the American Dental Association Convention of 1865. Mainly, because Hobbs gained trust through her practice, the school finally changed its attitude towards admitting women. She was finally allowed to enroll as a senior at the Ohio College of Dentistry. This was only the second dental school in the nation at the time. In 1866, she became the first woman to receive a doctorate in dentistry. After a while, she moved her practice once more, this time to Chicago where she married Civil War veteran James Myrtle Taylor. Dr. Hobbs then began to teach him dentistry. Together, they created one of the most successful dental practices in Kansas.

In 1886, her husband died. A year later, she retired and started to devote her time to charity and other social causes especially ones for women’s rights. Today, the American Association of Women Dentists recognizes outstanding women in the dental field with the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award. Which is one of the most prestigious honors the organization grants. Hobbs was the first woman dentist in the United States to receive her doctorate, paving the way for Emeline Roberts Jones to be the first practicing woman dentist.

EMELINE JONES

   Emeline Jones was born in 1838 with dreams of wanting to become a dentist. At 18, she married a dentist, Dr. Daniel Jones. He was quite reluctant to teach her, as he believed that women were not suited for dentistry because of their “frail and clumsy fingers”. Emeline persisted anyway and started to secretly practice doing fillings and extractions on teeth, and she was successful at it too. In 1855, it was only after she was working on hundreds of teeth and demonstrating her skills in secret that her husband finally took her seriously and allowed her to work on some of his patients. In 1859, she became his partner and became publicly known as a skilled dentist.

After her husband died in 1864, Jones had two small children and herself to support, so she continued her practice alone to support her family by traveling with her portable dentist chair to eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island. In 1876, she moved to New Haven, Connecticut where she established her own successful practice that she maintained until her retirement in 1915. Emeline Jones was nationally recognized as the first woman dentist at the 1893 World’s Columbian Dental Congress and in that same year, she became the 18th dentist to be licensed in Connecticut.

    Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, society, and cultures. Every year, the National Women’s History Alliance chooses a theme for the month and this year’s theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”. This theme works very well because where would we be without dentists? Women dentists? Lucy Hobbs and Emeline Jones provided both healing and hope, and we recognize them for their contributions and achievements this month. Remember oral health impacts your total health. Schedule your spring dental cleaning today!

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

Advertisement

5 American Presidents… and Their Teeth

As we all start making plans for Independence Day this weekend, we thought it would be fun to share some interesting tidbits regarding past Presidents and their dental “adventures” shall we call them. Without further ado, and in the order of their leadership:

  • George Washington. April 1789 – March 1797
    Failing teeth were a chronic issue his entire adult life, and at his Presidential inauguration in 1789, he had only one functional tooth remaining. Contrary to the myth, his false teeth were NOT made from wood. However, numerous full and partial dentures were constructed from materials like human teeth, and probably cow and horse teeth, ivory (possibly elephant). The metal fasteners holding them all together were crafted from lead-tin alloy, copper alloy (possibly brass), and silver alloy.

  • Grover Cleveland. March 1885 – March 1889 and March 1893 – March 1897
    Shortly into his second term, President Cleveland was diagnosed with a quarter-sized oral legion. Given the Great Depression was in its early days, the President felt it was best to have surgery in secret so his health wouldn’t cause political concern. Having had the surgery in summer 1893, it took about an hour and a half and left him with a 2.5 inch hole in his palate. A prosthodontist later fitted him with a vulcanized rubber prosthesis allowing him to speak normally again.   

  • Herbert Hoover. March 1929 – March 1933
    President Hoover was the very first President to set up a dental office that was located inside the white house! Having your own dental office in your own home is very convenient. As when he required care, he simply sauntered down to the basement where it was located.

  • John F. Kennedy. January 1961 – November 1963 
    During his first WWII mission, President Kennedy’s teeth saved one of his fellow soldiers from drowning! After their patrol torpedo boat (PT) was directly rammed by a Japanese destroyer, JFK towed a shipmate to safety by holding a strap from the life jacket with his teeth. For roughly four or five hours he swam breaststroke until reaching Plum Pudding island.

  • Lyndon B. Johnson. November 1963 – January 1969
    President Johnson is a man after our own heart! He used to gift electronic toothbrushes to friends and family complete with the Presidential Seal and all! His reason behind this as he states, “I want people to think of me right away when they wake up and right before they go to bed.”

We hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane with us. It’s easy to take our teeth for granted until we feel pain or sensitivity. So, with that we leave you with a gentle reminder to floss the corn out of your teeth and brush before bed this weekend.

Happy 245th Birthday America!

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388