Women in Dentistry - Judith Porter

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.

Judith Porter, DDS

WVU School of Dentistry, Class of 1976

Meet the dentist

Dr. Judy Porter was raised in St. Clairsville, Ohio and learned from a friend about the fine education offered at WVU. She earned her undergraduate degree at WVU as well as her DDS. She practiced dentistry in Charleston, WV for 25 years and went back to graduate school (Marshall University) in 1998, completing a Masters in Secondary Education and an EdD in Higher Education Administration by May of 2003 when she was hired by University of Maryland as a dental educator. She likes to say that her favorite job was being a mom but a close second was teaching dentistry. She directed Dental Anatomy and Occlusion, mentored students as a General Practice Director and, in 2013, was asked to be Dean of Admissions. She retired December 31, 2021 to pursue many interests that have been rattling around in her head for several years. She is the proud mother of Andrew J. Walker and Kathryn Walker Robinson and an even prouder grandmother to Beck Francis Robinson, her intrepid playmate.

Deciding Dentistry

Question: Why did you decide to become a dentist?
Answer: I thought about dental hygiene but the Director of Dental Hygiene at WVU at the time remarked that I had completed most of the prerequisites for dental school and it would be a shame not to pursue dental school instead. I am so grateful for that advice because this has been the perfect profession for me. My father was a sheet metal contractor and could fix anything. I always admired that. Dentistry has allowed me to follow in his footsteps.

Question: Why did you attend WVU?
Answer: I attended WVU because I was finishing up my undergraduate degree there and my husband was attending WVU School of Dentistry. It was only later that I learned about the fine quality of education offered there. It is truly one of the best dental schools in the country.

Question: Which memorable experience in your dental school program helped you move from student to oral health professional?
Answer: This is a difficult question to answer since there was no single event that helped me with that transition. Like many students, I kept a running tally of all the requirements I had to complete in order to achieve graduation. Sometime in my senior year, I realized that I would be entrusted with the health of my patients in practice. It is a rude awakening to realize that, as a health professional, you will constantly be judged on your appearance and your decorum as patients try to decide if you can be trusted to do the right things to keep them healthy.

We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - melting like a snowflake. 
- Marie Beynon Ray

Question: What do you do to have fun?
Answer: I’m glad this question is included because it is so important for students to hold on to those activities that feed their soul. It is so critical for our mental health to wander over to the other side of our brain to give ourselves a break from the stress of school or dental practice and just “create.” You will find that most dentists have some kind of creative pursuits. I love to knit. It’s almost like a meditation, going from stitch to stitch and ending up with something you can wear or present as a gift to a friend or loved one.  Most people who know me are aware that it’s difficult for me to sit still.  Knitting has gotten me through many long conferences, allowing me to sit still and still listen.  Of course, fun also includes goofing off with my grandson, playing soccer, baseball, golf, ping pong and making Minecraft characters out of cardboard boxes.

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

-Ann Landers

Question: What advice do you have for current dental and dental hygiene students?
Answer: Think of dental school or dental hygiene school as your job. Go to work. Be there. If a patient cancels, find something else to do! Go watch a procedure you haven’t seen before or assist a classmate with a restoration you haven’t done yet. Get your money’s worth. Don’t waste time by leaving school to just go home. Be productive while you’re in school and learn as much as you can.  If you finish what you’re working on in lab, do it again to get better. If you’re having trouble with a procedure, go to the pickiest person in the school and ask for their help. Be a professional. It’ll be worth it.