Women in Dentistry - Shahla Azadi

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.

Shahla Azadi, DDS

WVU School of Dentistry, Class of 2008

Meet the dentist

I earned both B.S. in Medical Technology and M.S. in Occupational Safety and Health from WVU. Dentistry was my original interest, however international students were not able to apply to dental school at that time. Once I got U.S. permanent residency, I applied to dental school the same time as my daughter. We both were accepted in the same class and became the first mother and daughter attending dental school together. I have been working as a general dentist in my private practice in Morgantown, WV since graduating from WVU SOD. My daughter, Azadeh Afshari, continued her post graduate studies and is a Maxillofacial Prosthodontist. She practices in Barnes Jewish Hospital in Saint Louise, MO.   

Drs. Azadi and Afshari pose for a picture in Italy.
Mother and daughter, Drs. Azadi and Afshari, attended dental school together.

Deciding Dentistry

Question: Why did you decide to become a dentist?
Answer: I always liked helping others and enjoyed interaction with people. The idea of making people feel better about themselves and improving their quality of life was my main reason to become a dentist.

Question: Why did you attend WVU?
Answer: I was living in Morgantown, WV with my family and WVU was the most convenient for me, but I researched a few schools in the neighboring states as well. I liked the small class size at WVU, its faculty to student ratio, and strong practical training.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
― Brene Brown

Question: Which memorable experience in your dental school program helped you move from student to oral health professional?
Answer: I had a patient in my third year of dental school that was 23 years old and needed full mouth extraction and upper and lower dentures. It was heartbreaking for me to discuss her treatment plan with her. I did not know about her background or hygiene habits, but I had to take charge and discuss her situation without making her uncomfortable or accusing her of recreational drug use.  I promised myself that I will always inform the patients about their oral health and stress the importance of it.

Question: What motivates you to care for patients and promote oral health awareness?
Answer: Making patients feel better is the strongest motivation factor for me.  I enjoy my work since I can see the effects on my patients’ oral health and well-being immediately. They often experience tears of joy when I insert anterior crowns or veneers that change their appearance.  They are happy to smile without worrying about their teeth! I can see the comfort in my patient’s eyes after restoring a broken or decayed tooth. I was involved in a project that the state allocated money for certain individuals with broken or decayed teeth that prevented them from obtaining employment.  It was so rewarding to work with these patients.

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

Question: What advice do you have for current dental students?
Answer: My advice to dental students is to learn as much as you can in school, while you have the faculty to help and show you the correct methods of doing different procedures. Try to work with various faculty and learn their special tips and techniques so you can practice and decide on what works best for you.