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Historically, dentistry is not a female profession. As recently as the 1970s, women made up only 15 percent of the graduating classes in dental schools. But now, women represent nearly half of all new dentists. Given the progression, it seems likely that over half of future dentists will soon be female

Like it or not, the profession of dentistry is changing, much like the profession of medicine has been transformed by the influx of women physicians. That process wasn’t completely smooth; there are numerous accounts of female physicians being regarded as “less than” their male peers.

It’s unlikely that the ever-increasing numbers of female dentists in the workforce will face exactly the same challenges as their physician counterparts. However, that’s not to say that challenges don’t remain. For instance, women remain underrepresented as speakers at events, as dental school professors, and in industry leadership positions.

The Changing Faces of Dentistry

The ADA announced several female keynote speakers at the upcoming October meeting Honolulu and a special emphasis on women in dentistry. Again, this follows a similar path of gradual acceptance and greater inclusion as female physicians experienced.

The advent of more female physicians hasn’t necessarily changed the profitability of male doctors’ practices. What it has done is open up another avenue of choice for patients. The segment of the population that prefers female physicians has likely moved to choosing women doctors wherever possible.

With more female dentists, expect to see a similar migration of dental patients. There are several possible reasons for this pattern: women might believe that other women will be more accepting and less judgmental; women typically have smaller hands, which is attractive to patients with claustrophobia and/or smaller mouths; and female dentists may be perceived as more gentle than male dentists.

With an increasing presence in the profession, high-profile leaders, and greater patient acceptance, women are poised to become a force in the industry in 2018 and beyond.

The Implications

Patients’ perceptions of female dentists can offer those doctors a competitive advantage over male dentists. Of course, those women dentists are also competing with other women dentists, diluting that advantage to some extent. Overall, though, male dentists can expect a slow but steady drain on their new patient streams.

Some competitive strategies for male dentists including having one or more female associates on staff; emphasizing gentleness of care and patient comfort measures in your marketing; and reframing your marketing to emphasize the benefits of the procedures you offer, rather than the procedures themselves.

That last strategy typically requires a complete revamping of a dental practice’s marketing. That may be beyond the capabilities of a busy office, so it’s something that is generally best left to dedicated dental marketing firm.  

SmartBox Gives You Competitive Advantages

We take care of providing a steady stream of better patients so that you can focus on actually doing the dentistry. And with better patients, representing higher case value and lifetime value to your practice, you’ll be able to work less and earn more.

Position your practice for success by visiting www.smartboxdental.com and clicking on the “Get Started” button.

Schedule your free, no-obligation Practice Discovery Session™. Following the 25-minute phone call, SmartBox will send you your completely personalized, free, Patient Attraction Roadmap™.

Women in dentistry have the potential to shift the dynamics in your market. Make sure that your practice is ready to meet the challenge.


Written by Smartbox

SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.