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A Dentist and a Gentleman

A Dentist and a Gentleman: Gender and the Rise of Dentistry in Ontario

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 288
  • Book Info
    A Dentist and a Gentleman
    Book Description:

    At one time considered a trade, dentistry gradually evolved and attained professional status, structured in such a way as to recruit middle-class white men; by definition, a professional was a gentleman. A unique and fascinating social history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7029-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  5. Chapter 1 Dentistry, Gender, and Profession Creation
    (pp. 3-18)

    In 1993 the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario published a booklet celebrating its 125th anniversary and 125 years of dentistry in Ontario. On the cover was a picture of the graduates from the profession’s dental school in Toronto, circa 1888. The graduates were not arrayed in rows looking straight at the camera, but were pictured in various poses, seated and standing, within an elegantly appointed room. In this picture the dental graduates represent a professional ideal that dental leaders were striving to achieve at the time: without exception, the graduates were white men who had the demeanour and...

  6. Chapter 2 The Rise of the Dental Profession in Ontario
    (pp. 19-38)

    Although it is possible to trace aspects of dental practice back to ancient Greece and ancient Egypt, the modern foundations of dentistry date back to the activities of medieval European barber-surgeons. Dentistry in the Middle Ages was not very sophisticated, and it is likely that barbersurgeons limited their dental work to pulling teeth. Barber-surgery was a masculine occupation, although there were a few women who practised the craft with their husbands or as widows. Women’s involvement in the trade, however, was substantially curtailed by male barber-surgeons in the sixteenth century in the face of hard economic times and increased competition...

  7. Chapter 3 Defining Dentistry
    (pp. 39-55)

    The late 1860s and early 1870s were heady times for professions in Ontario. There was a flurry of legislation establishing professional privileges for medical doctors (1865, 1869), pharmacists (1871), and dentists (1868), among others. In the later decades of the nineteenth century, however, the climate for professions changed. The legislature was much less open to granting professional privileges, and, indeed, seemed tempted to limit or withdraw those previously granted. The population was suspicious of professions and their claims to monopoly over the provision of certain services. In the mid-1890s a political party called the Patrons of Industry succeeded in having...

  8. Chapter 4 Enforcing the Dental Ideal
    (pp. 56-75)

    It is one thing to outline an ideal image of dentists and dentistry, but it is quite a different, more difficult, task to enforce that definition. At the same time that dental leaders defined dentists’ ideal characteristics, roles, and relations, they also organized professional education and discipline to turn this ideal into a reality. Dental leaders set matriculation standards so that the ‘quality of men’ entering the profession would be raised. They also structured education to ensure that practitioners, no matter what their background, would behave like professional gentlemen once they graduated and attained a dental licence. Additionally, dental leaders...

  9. Chapter 5 Professional Status, Ideology, and Gender: Dentistry 1900–1918
    (pp. 76-89)

    After the turn of the twentieth century the climate for professions changed substan dally. Public distrust of professional privilege was on the wane. The number of professions and occupations struggling to attain professional status increased dramatically, and many Ontario professions solidified their status and authority. For instance, it was at this time that the medical profession achieved dominance within the health care system (Coburn et al. 1983).¹ Dentistry’s professional boundaries and jurisdiction became more clearly defined. Dentists acquired more public respect and their social influence grew. This chapter provides an overview of these changes and explores the concomitant rise in...

  10. Chapter 6 Public Health, Public Education, Public Image
    (pp. 90-109)

    By the turn of the century the social purity and public health movements in Ontario were well under way (Valverde 1991; Sutherland 1981; Mac- Dougall 1990). Middle-class, Anglo-Saxon Ontarians were concerned with the moral and physical state of the Ontario public. Fearing that the Anglo-Saxon ‘race’ was degenerating both morally and physically, they worked to ‘reform’ the way people – especially immigrant and working class people – lived their lives. Both the social purity and the public health movements, although somewhat distinct, centred around the belief that there was a direct connection between physical health, cleanliness, and morality. Men and...

  11. Chapter 7 Gender and the Division of Dental Labour
    (pp. 110-125)

    During the opening decades of the twentieth century dentists became concerned with office efficiency. Borrowing ideas about scientific management and rationalization from the business world, they began to rationalize dental practice. Prosperity and success in dental practice were now seen as a function of the efficient use of dentists’ time and money. One of the principal means through which dentists sought to maximize their efficiency was the use of auxiliary dental workers. Two types were used increasingly after the turn of the century: dental assistants and dental mechanics. At this time dentists endeavoured to carefully define and delimit the work...

  12. Chapter 8 On Becoming a Dentist: Dental Students, 1903–1917
    (pp. 126-143)

    In 1903 the students at the Royal College of Dental Surgeons’ dental school in Toronto established a student journal,Hya Yaka.¹ It was written and published by the students, under the editorial direction of the school’s senior class. The journal reflected student life and culture and provided a student voice on events that occurred at the dental school. This publication is a valuable source of information on students’ backgrounds and personalities, their interactions, culture, and views on their education and their chosen profession. An examination of issues of Hya Yaka provides insight into student life at the RGBS school and...

  13. Chapter 9 Women in Dentistry
    (pp. 144-166)

    During the first fifty years of its existence the Ontario dental profession was defined by men, for men. The vast majority of dentists were men, and dentists believed that their work required the traits and skills of a gentleman. As we have seen, professional roles, relations, and education were structured in a way that defined and reaffirmed the middle-class manhood of dental practitioners. Yet, during the period, nine women became licensed professional dentists. There is also evidence that women had some involvement in dental practice on a more informal level, especially in dentistry’s early years. How did women fare in...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 167-186)

    This study has taken an in-depth look at the rise of dentistry in Ontario and illustrated that the very definition of professional practice, professional roles, and professional relations has been shaped by gender, in combination with class and race. Ontario dentistry was established by middle-class, white men for middle-class white men. These men drew on class and race-ethnicity, gender ideology, gender relations, and genderidentity characteristic of their time to structure their profession and to legitimate their claims to professional status and authority to the public. This structure encouraged the employment of middle-class, white men in the profession, while discouraging the...

  15. Appendix 1 Historical Sources
    (pp. 187-194)
  16. Appendix 2 Women as a Percentage of Practitioners in Selected Male-Dominated Professions in Ontario, 1911–1996
    (pp. 195-196)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 197-206)
  18. References
    (pp. 207-230)
  19. Index
    (pp. 231-235)