Few people run triathlons, or have qualified for the Olympic trials. Even fewer of those are women, but WSDA member Dr. Linda Edgar did all of that in the 80s — and had it not been for an accident while training for the Hawaii Ironman, she might still be running today. The drive and perseverance that Linda harnessed throughout her life has carried her through both triumph and personal loss to where she is today — a successful dentist who has practiced for 22 years with her husband, Bryan, and is now poised to become president of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) — the second-largest dental association in the country.
The Edgars started dating in high school and later attended UW together – Bryan pre-dent, Linda pre-med, and they struck a deal — once she graduated, they would marry and Linda would work and put Bryan through dental school. When his practice was underway, she would attend medical school. In the end, It wouldn’t be quite so easy — as Edgar says, “Life happens when you’re busy making other plans.” She got her teaching degree, and began teaching math and science while studying for her masters at night. Bryan was a 4th year in dental school when the couple faced the first of two personal tragedies — they lost a child early in pregnancy. Nine months later, after the couple had relocated to Ft. Riley in Kansas where Bryan was completing a two-year residency, the couple lost yet another child under the same circumstances. With starting a family on hold, Edgar recalibrated, and began to apply to both medical and dental schools a few months later.
Her competitive spirit
The university and beyond
More than dentistry
Edgar mentors women dental students, encouraging them to come to the practice to see what they’re doing — she also invites them to call or email her with questions. “There’s no reason why a woman can’t buy a practice,” says Edgar, noting that women dentists still face some gender-related hurdles, “There’s still a cultural bias that suggests women will work less to accommodate having children. To that I say look at the Carrie Yorks of the world! In Washington and elsewhere, there are a growing number of women who are very successful — often producing more than their male counterparts — because they have husbands willing to stay at home in a more traditionally female role. How wonderful is that? It may still only have limited acceptability in society, but that’s changing.” And while there still may be much work left to do to achieve gender neutrality, Linda is a determined ally, “If you want to be an engineer or a mechanical engineer, don’t let someone tell you that women can’t do that. They told me that when I wanted to be a doctor, and I didn’t let that stop me. Look at the ADA,” she notes, “In 150 years they’ve only had two women presidents – and there are a lot of smart women. And yes, it’s a little scary to be moving into this position as President — I know that I will be more scrutinized because I am a woman — I stick out. But I also know that if you ask me to do something, I’ll give 100 percent. I’m personal, genuine and authentic, and I think people respond to that.”
Proud service with AGD
A national agenda