Dentistry: The Last Bastion of Sexism?

An NHS dentist performing an examination

Image via Wikipedia

I had to go to the dentist unexpectedly yesterday. Thankfully, nothing serious is wrong (read: no cavities, no abscesses, no root canals or fillings needed). But I noticed something about my dentist’s office.

When I walked in the office, I was greeted by a woman, sitting behind a counter with other women — the treatment plan and payment coordinators. When I was called back to the exam room, a woman called my name. She did the initial X-rays, and when she needed help, another woman came. It was like this at my last dentist’s office, too. All the receptionists, payment coordinators, hygienists, and other assistants were female. Which is fine, I’m glad to see women filling jobs that may have been considered men-only jobs 50 or 100 years ago.

But, when the dentist walked in the room, it was a man. And the observing student he introduced, trying to decide whether or not dental school is the way to go, was also a man. I have never had a female dentist nor been a patient in a dental practice with a female dentist.

When I talked about this with my husband, he said that when he was small, he went to a pediatric dental clinic, and there was a female dentist there. But she was the only example of a female dentist either of us could think of.

Why aren’t more dentists women? I’ve met lots of women doctors (I wouldn’t say half the doctors I meet are female, but it’s close) and not just in specialties like obstetrics/gynecology. There are certainly some doctors’ offices where the male doctor is assisted only by women, but not nearly as many as there used to be. What’s up with the dentist’s office?

I’d love to hear from my readers on this. What’s your experience with women & dentistry? If you are a female dentist, I’d love to hear your perspective on this and any barriers you have experienced. Male dentists, I’d love your perspective, too. (I was going to ask my dentist yesterday, but he spent a lot of time with me discussing my options for my teeth, time he didn’t have to spend — and I really appreciate it — so I didn’t want to take up more of his time asking irrelevant (to my teeth) questions.)

%d bloggers like this: