Changing the face of dentistry in the Rockford area

A Rockford-area dental clinic is changing the face of dentistry in more ways than one.

Dr. Alissa Anthony took over Schoening Dental Care more than two years ago, renamed it 815 Dental Studio and expanded the practice to more than 1,500 patients.

But that's not all. The company is run entirely by women, which the 31-year-old says is a happy coincidence.

“I had no intention of doing that,” Anthony said. “That's how it turned out. But it's cool because dentistry is definitely male-dominated. I think people view all-female clinics as more nurturing.”

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The 10 women who work for Anthony feel the same way.

“Times are changing,” said Assistant Office Manager Meg Palmer. “Women feel more empowered – women supporting women. Men are also more supportive of their female counterparts these days.”

Anthony is a 2019 graduate of the Southern Illinois University School of Dentistry, with 50 students in his class. Eighteen were women.

“Almost half,” she said. But even like 10 years ago, this is not the case. There are not many women.

Anthony says that while she recognizes her clinic as a place of empowerment for women, there were other factors that led her to own her own business before she turned 30 — an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to lead others.

“I never really thought about working for anyone else,” she said.

Anthony, whose practice includes cosmetic dentistry, said she chose this field because it was a good fit for both of her interests.

“It combines art and science,” she said. “Giving people a smile and letting them regain their self-esteem is my favorite thing to do.”

Anthony said she is also building a practice to support advances in her field that are rapidly being integrated into other areas of health care. Research continues to show that common and often serious conditions are directly related to how patients care for their teeth, she said.

“This is definitely new thinking,” she said. “But doctors are starting to realize that there is a connection between the oral system. It all starts in the mouth. Bad bacteria in the mouth can get into your bloodstream and affect diabetes, stroke, heart disease — all these diseases. So we educate our doctors with related patients.

Jim Hagerty writes about business, growth and development and other news topics for the Rockford Chronicle Star. Email him at

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