Dr. Olga A. Lentz working in her practice, St. Paul, MN. 1910. Though originally from New York, the New York School of Dentistry did not admit women to their programs. Olga went down to Philadelphia to get her degree in dental medicine, and then went back to the west side of NYC to practice for several years. She eventually set up practice in St. Paul, MN.
Though highly successful, Dr. Lentz did not escape the sexism and discrimination of the day. For the most part, she would only treat people referred to her by others, and very rarely took strangers, especially men. When a newspaper report was done on her back in New York, it seemed to take female doctors and dentists as almost a novelty- it noted how they were just as competent as men, but at the same time, the headline was “Girl Dentist ‘Pretty and Popular’”. The tone of the entire article was in the same vein as this quote:
A dentist is no longer a king of terrors. She is a queen of beauty, says the New York Morning Journal. How pleasant to see a sweet, delicate, girlish face bent over yours as you lean back in the fatal chair of torture! How delightful to gaze up into tender blue or black eyes, and feel that soft tendrils of hair are sweeping your brow like a summer zephyr!
It is any wonder that young lady dentists are successful, and that their number is constantly on the increase? New York supports several, and it was to one of the number that I went not long ago for advice on the subject of a tooth.
So, it wasn’t exactly like they were completely respected or seen as the same as male doctors. But they were there, and they were successful, and Dr. Lentz in particular was a boon for the women’s suffrage movement in Minnesota, proving that women can be just as competent and make decisions just as well as any man.