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Celebrating the First Woman Dentist

According to the University of Michigan Dentistry School, Lucy Hobbs was the first woman to ever earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in 1866. She was an extraordinary woman, committed to the practice of dentistry and being a good doctor to her patients, but it took her many years and a lot of determination to become the first female dentist. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at this pioneering dentist.

Hobbs was born in Constable, New York in March 1833, the seventh child in a family that would eventually have 10 children. She went to school at the Franklin Academy, and after she graduated she became a teacher in Michigan.

Schoolteacher was one of the few jobs that women held during Hobbs’ time, but while she was living in Michigan she rented a room from a doctor, who sparked her interest in medicine.

Thus inspired, she moved to Cincinnati in 1859, says People’s World, where she applied to the Eclectic College of Medicine, the only college that was accepting women at the time. She was denied, however, because the college had reversed its decision to accept female students.

Study of DentistryAfter she was rejected, Hobbs didn’t give up. She found a professor who was willing to tutor her privately. Once the professor saw how talented Hobbs was, he suggested that she pursue dentistry. Hobbs was again denied admission from a school, however, this time the Ohio School of Dentistry.

Rather than give up and move on, Hobbs opened her own dental practice in Ohio, then moved to Iowa where she was recognized among her male peers despite not having a degree. She was elected to the Iowa State Dental Society and attended the American Dental Association’s annual convention in Chicago as a delegate from the state society. After successfully treating patients for four years, Hobbs was finally granted admission to the senior class at the Ohio School of Dentistry, where she graduated in 1866.

Hobbs is known for saying that she wanted “to enter a profession where she could earn her bread not alone by the sweat of her brow, but by the use of her brains also.” She continued her dentistry practice until her death, though largely retired from active practice following the death of her husband in 1886.

During March, Women’s History Month, we should remember to honor the women who were brave enough to keep trying until they succeeded at accomplishing their dreams while also pushing boundaries and changing the conversation for their children.

This month – and every month – it’s also important to remember your dental health. Don’t forget to schedule your next dentist’s visit! Request an appointment online now or call Brockport Dental at 585-589-0000 today to schedule your next visit.

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