Dentistry: It takes a woman’s touch.
“Going to the dentist” doesn’t necessarily mean going to the dentist. There’s a whole team of dental workers involved in making your appointment run smoothly, and 90% of them are women.
That’s right. Ninety percent of dental workers are women. Without women, dental offices all over the world would be forced to close up shop–and we don’t even want to think about what would happen to people’s teeth. So, in honor of all the women who make shiny, healthy teeth possible, educate yourself with this breakdown of women’s roles in dentistry:
Women fill 98% of dental hygienist positions. (1)
That’s a staggering number. But wait. There’s more. Hygienists also spend more time with patients than any other member of the dental profession.
If you take care of your teeth, this statistic probably doesn’t surprise you. You may have noticed during your annual cleanings that a hygienist greets you, asks how you (and your pearly whites) are doing, cleans your teeth, answers any questions you have, gently reminds you to floss in the back, and notes potential dental issues. Only then does your dentist pop in for a few minutes to double check the hygienist’s work.
Now, we’re not saying that dentists are slackers. They’re just holed up in the scary back room with all the drills. Hopefully, you’ll never have to go in there, which means you will end up spending many, many more hours of your life with a dental hygienist than a dentist. And chances are, your dental hygienist is a woman.
Women fill 98% of dental assistant positions. (1)
Unfortunately, not all dental problems can be left in your hygienist’s loving hands. Cavities, extractions, root canals, crowns, fillers, and implants all require a dentist. And dentists all require dental assistants.
The first friendly face you see when you come in for dental work probably belongs to a dental assistant. After your operation begins, a dental assistant will be on standby to make the dentist’s job (ergo your life) easier. When your operation is over, a dental assistant will tell you everything you need to know to make a quick recovery and, most importantly, get back on solid food!
Basically, finding a male dental hygienist and/or a dental assistant in Olathe, would be compared to finding a narwhal in the sea. With only 2% being male, you can rest at ease that they have chosen this profession carefully. There are many similar characteristics that define a great dental hygienist and dental assistant: professional, empathetic, compassionate, patient, and detailed are just a few. So male or female, consider yourself lucky to be in good hands.
And 30% of dentists are women.
Given that there are fewer female executives of Fortune 500 companies than there are male executives named James and fewer female senators than male senators named John, it’s not too surprising that only 30% of dentists (the top dogs in the dental world) are women. (2, 4)
But that number is on the rise.
A whopping 60% of dentists under the age of forty-five are women. That means that, as older generations of male dentists retire, dentistry will shift to a predominantly female practice. Some researchers predict that the changeover will come as soon as 2020 in the USA. In European countries, where people tend to retire earlier, it’s already happening. Sixty percent of licensed dentists in Europe are women. (3)
It’s also important to note the important female leaders we have in the field of dentistry. Women hold 30 to 35% of faculty positions in dental schools, and the past two presidents of the American Dental Association were women. (3) As women become more prominent in education and policy-making, their influence over the dental world will only increase. Personally, we’re excited to see what a woman’s touch can do!
Did you know: Your favorite Olathe dental office, Rhoades Family Dentistry, has been an ALL female staff since Dr. Ray retired in 2012? For the past seven years we have had fifteen females running up and down our halls every day. This past September, a male dental assistant bravely joined our all female staff. Like the symbolism of the narwhal, he is empathetic, freeing, patient, and is magical in the ability to communicate and connect with our patients- they love him. As we are excited to see the increase of female dentist, we are equally excited to see an increase with men becoming dental hygienist and dental assistants. Either a woman’s touch or a man’s touch, what the future holds for women and men in dentistry is very exciting!
(1) Callahan, Robert. “Oral Health Fast Facts.” American Dental Hygienist’s Association, nd, https://www.adha.org/resources-docs/72210_Oral_Health_Fast_Facts_&_Stats.pdf
(2) Claire Cain Miller et al. “The Top Jobs Where Women Are Outnumbered by Men Named John.” New York Times, 24 April 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/04/24/upshot/women -and-men-named-john.html.
(3) Needham, Stephanie. “The shifting paradigm of dentistry: The predominance of women.” Dental Economics, 1 May 2017, https://www.dentaleconomics.com/articles/print/volume-107/issue-5/ macroeconomics/the-shifting-paradigm-of-dentistry-the-predominance-of-women.html.
(4) “Workforce.” American Dental Association, nd, https://www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute/dental-statistics/workforce.