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When you visit your local dental practice, there's a good chance you will see a woman dentist, but this change is relatively recent. Even 30 years ago, women only accounted for a quarter of those training to become dentists. Back then, trainee dentists were all likely to be referred to as gentlemen, and it wasn't uncommon for women to be ignored by lecturers. Nowadays, thankfully the situation has changed substantially.
Recent figures from the Department of Health show that in graduates in dentistry aged 20 to 34, women account for 55% of dental practitioners. The Australian Dental Association has similar figures and finds there are more female dentists under the age of 40 currently practising, so there are likely to be more female dentists than men in the future.
Why Is Dentistry an Appealing Career for Women?
Dentistry can appeal to women because it's a career in a caring profession. It's unusual because it mixes both artistry with science. A good artistic eye is increasingly important nowadays, with an increased interest in aesthetics. More people are choosing to have cosmetic dentistry to improve the appearance of their teeth, which requires an artistic eye! Many women dentists enjoy the artistic side tremendously, especially when they can sculpt and design teeth and where accuracy and intricacy are required. Seeing a happy patient can be immensely satisfying.
Additionally, women dentists can bring a different level of compassion and empathy into a dental practice. While it wouldn't be true to say men don't have these traits, women tend to show their gentler side more openly. Women practice owners often strive to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for patients, carefully thinking about how to make appointments more relaxing. Helping patients overcome deep-seated fears and anxieties can be enormously rewarding, especially when they feel able to visit the practice regularly.
A Family Oriented Career
Dentistry is a flexible profession, providing various family-oriented work options, allowing busy mums to juggle childcare while still enjoying a satisfying career. Women dentists can work part-time, earn a good wage, and enjoy a good work-life balance.
Challenges Facing Women Dentists
There is the need to keep up with continuing education which can require some clever scheduling by women trying to combine work with a family. Technology within dentistry is fast-changing, and it's important to keep up with all the new developments, techniques and materials as they become available.
While women dentists are equally as capable as their male counterparts, some people still prefer to see a male dentist. More work may need to be done to overcome these attitudes in some practices. It's a shame because women dentists are often extremely good at verbal communication, explaining treatments to patients more fully, and helping to build lasting relationships. Generally, any scepticism a patient may feel about being treated by a woman dentist is quickly overcome when they see women are equally skilled at providing dental treatments as men.
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