Several Roman physicians wrote extensively about dentistry. Many people still believed in the theory of the toothworm being responsible for toothaches. Romans were skilled in restoring decayed teeth with gold crowns. They had a high regard for oral hygiene.
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, dental schools throughout the world did not accept female students.
Women such as Lucy B. Hobbs-Taylor and Nellie E. Pooler broke those barriers.
Emiline Roberts became the first woman dentist in the United States. At 17 years of age, she worked for her dentist husband, who trained her in his office to become a dentist. She later opened her own dental practice.
Today, women are active in dental associations, specialties, public health, and the military.
It is projected that by the year 2020, 20% of all dentists will be women.
Fig. 1-7 Dental instrument kit belonging to Dr. Nellie E. Pooler. She practiced dentistry in Nevada City, California. She died in 1906. (Courtesy University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry.)
C. Edmund Kells , a dentist in New Orleans, was credited with using the first dental assistant.
She was a “lady in attendance,” making it respectable for women patients to go into a dental office unaccompanied.
Dr. Kells soon realized that this lady could be a valuable asset, and by 1900, he was working with both a chairside dental assistant and a secretarial assistant.
Fig. 1-9 C. Edmund Kells and his “working unit,” about 1900. Assistant on the left is keeping cold air on the cavity while assistant on the right mixes materials and “secretary” records details. (From Kells CE: The dentist’s own book, St. Louis, 1925, Mosby.)
Fig. 1-10 Dental hygienist during the 1960s working in a standing position (From Daniel SJ, Harfst SA: Mosby’s dental hygiene:concepts, cases, and competencies–2004 update. St. Louis, 2004, Mosby; Courtesy Fr. Edward J. Dowlin, S.J. Marine Historical Collection, University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit.)