women in dentistry

Women in dentistry are (and have been) leading the industry for years. The success and strength of women in the workplace are becoming a bigger focus for our industry and the world.

Our ongoing work at DentalPost is changing the culture of dentistry for women by shifting perspectives on what makes a great workplace environment. The conversations we lead, the data we collect, and our job board initiatives to intelligently match dental professionals with employers bring greater opportunity for all women in dentistry—now and in the future.

Today, we’d like to pause to recognize our successes as women in dentistry and reflect on the opportunities we have to bolster ourselves over the next few years and beyond!

The Rise of Women in Dentistry

Stats on Women in the Dental Field

The dental field is predominantly female, with women increasingly taking on leadership roles that were previously male-dominated in dentistry. This isn’t just in the United States; the percentage of women in the dental industry is consistently rising globally. 

Data from the Health Policy Institute shows the percentage of women dental school graduates grew from 46% to 50.6% between 2009 and 2019. Additionally, the percentage of dentists in the workforce grew from 24.1% to 34.5% between 2010 and 2020. As of 2021, there are 201,927 professionally active dentists in the U.S., and 35.9% are female.

This increase is expected to continue, as is evident in the growth of the proportion of female dental school graduates. Women made up 56% of first-year dental students in 2021 — the highest rate ever.

According to the ADHA’s most recent fact sheet (2021), over 226,000 dental hygienists practice across the United States. About 98% of them are female. By various estimates, including government databases, over 330,000 registered dental assistants are employed, and about 90% are female.

Between the retirement of male dentists, the rise in female dental school graduates, and the increased need for talented women in the workplace, it’s a great time to be a woman in dentistry. The demand for dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants is never-ending, especially since the pandemic slowed the graduation of professionals. Rising consumer demand for oral health services and the labor shortage has resulted in women’s income rising in dentistry. This is true even among the non-dentist professions.

Stats From DentalPost’s 2022 Salary Survey

From our 2022 salary survey of over 1,200 dentists across the United States, 96% of female dentists who are owners or partners in a private or corporate practice work full time. This compared with 92% of male dentists who are owners or partners.

Although private practice ownership decreases as dental practices continue to consolidate with DSOs, 62% of female dentists responding to DentalPost’s 2022 salary survey own a dental practice or partner in a group practice or DSO. 

Among the dentists responding to DentalPost’s 2022 salary survey, more than twice as many female dentists (13%) than male dentists (6%) work in clinical settings other than private or corporate practices. Instead, they take on leadership roles in public health and community clinics.

About 5% of female owners and partners work part-time during the prime child-bearing and early child-raising years. They have found the means to have flexibility, even as business owners-leaders.

Women are a Natural Fit for Dentistry

Many say that women are a natural fit for dentistry. With the inherent ability to build and support strong relationships, nurture patients, and address concerns, it’s no wonder that women found success in the field. Dentistry is also a great fit for women. Many practices allow employees to work flexible hours, which is a great perk when raising a family. Creating a work-life balance that works for each individual makes dentistry an enticing profession.

Tonya Lanthier’s blog Dental Hygienists Rated Amongst Top Jobs for Great Work-Life Balance has been updated with insights from Dental Post’s 2022 jobs satisfaction survey, as has the blog The Secret Life of the Dental Office Manager. Both of these articles report data on the high percentage of women in dentistry who love and recommend their profession.

The DentalPost Perspective

We’re lucky to have many shining examples of strong and dedicated women in our office. Tonya Lanthier, our Founder and President, has been a vocal advocate for women and women’s rights in the workplace. It’s not always easy, as she explains, but that shouldn’t stop us from supporting and empowering each other.

“As the President of DentalPost, I get the opportunity to meet remarkable, hard-working women every day. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by women who share my vision and drive; they inspire me immensely. Today’s global acknowledgment of the achievements of women is a reminder of the progress we’ve made in our world. My team and I will only continue to empower the amazing women within our company, our industry, and our community at large.”

Tonya Lanthier, Founder & President

Women Are Leading the Way

Women are taking charge, and we should see that trend continue over the next few years. More women than ever before are in leadership positions across the country and in the dental industry. The same goes for women owning their dental practices. While we’re still working toward complete gender parity, it’s clear that women aren’t letting obstacles keep them from pursuing their dreams.

Updated August 2022.

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