Women in Dentistry - Azadeh Afshari

Featuring women in oral health professions

Through a special project named "Women in Dentistry: A Glance Back and a Look Forward", the School of Dentistry celebrates women and their contributions to the healing art and science of dentistry.

Azadeh Afshari, DDS, MSD

WVU School of Dentistry, Class of 2009

Meet the dentist

I have always liked working with my hands. This is why dentistry was such a natural choice for me. I completed my undergraduate degree at WVU and then attended WVU SOD for dental school. Afterwards I completed AEGD at The University of Texas at Houston SOD, Prosthodontics training from the VA Hospital in Houston, Master of Science in Dentistry degree from the University of Texas at Houston SOD and fellowship training for Oral Oncology and Maxillofacial Prosthodontics at MD Anderson Cancer Center. I am now working as a maxillofacial prosthodontist at Washington University/ Barnes Jewish Hospital/Siteman Cancer Center in Saint Louis, MO.  I love what I do and get to work with my hands on a daily basis!

Deciding Dentistry

Question: Why did you decide to become a dentist?
Answer: I love working with my hands and having the ability to be creative. Every case is different and unique and the profession is far from boring.

Question: Why did you attend WVU?
Answer: WVU was my first choice and only place I applied to. I had grown up in WV and was already a proud mountaineer. WVU gave me all the opportunities to pursue my passions and dreams. It was my dream program and I didn’t want to go anywhere else.

Question: Which memorable experience in your dental school program helped you move from student to oral health professional?
Answer: For me it was after I saw my first patient. I still remember the feeling of responsibility when my patient asked me questions and looked to me for advice/information regarding their oral health.

Nobody gets to live life backwards. Look ahead, because that's where your future lies.
- Ann Landers

Question: What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
Answer: I was very focused on meeting requirements for graduation. It was a source of much anxiety for me as a student. I wish that I could have been more relaxed and focused on learning more skills – school is such a safe place for learning and sometimes we take that for granted during our time there.

Mentorship and sponsorship are crucial for career progression.
- Sheryl Sandberg from her book Lean In

Question: How has a mentor contributed to your success? What attributes do you admire most in your mentors?
Answer: My mentors have always been female for some reason. I think it is because I see myself in them. I love meeting strong female dentists who are confident and skilled in what they do. This profession can be male-dominated and for me it was always admirable to see the women in the profession that were knocking it out of the park!

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.
-Mother Teresa

Question: Reflect on your careers and share a grateful patient experience where your care for them brought smiles or tears of joy?
Answer: I love delivering obturators – it is such a powerful moment to be able to help someone speak and eat again. Most of these patients are so grateful and I am able to see tears of joy daily. This makes my job so wonderful and fulfilling.