Incisal Edge 40 Under 40, 2013

Dr. Jennifer Torbett in our pages in 2013 (right) and more recently

“WE HAVE TO fight for dentistry—no one is going to work harder for dentists than the governing body of the dental association,” says Dr. Jennifer Torbett. As past president of the Rhode Island Dental Association and now secretary and treasurer for the American Dental Association’s First Trustee District, which covers the six New England states, Dr. Torbett would certainly know.

Working with her old RIDA colleagues in the early weeks of the pandemic, Dr. Torbett, 43, helped secure personal protective equipment and sought to ensure that Rhode Island dentists and their support staff were recognized as essential workers. “We loaded up five trucks with PPE, and collated and distributed supplies for each dentist in the state.”

Dr. Torbett got her start in industry governance during dental school at Tufts, where she was a class representative. “I wanted to be part of the change instead of being told how to change,” she says. “I wanted to have influence and have my voice heard.”

She has since grown into a fierce advocate for organized dentistry, strength in numbers and career mentoring of young dentists by those who have “been through it before,” she says.

Dr. Torbett’s yearlong stint as RIDA president ended in May 2019, but she continues to work closely with the organization in her ADA capacity to make sure the Ocean State (and the First Trustee District more broadly) are well looked-after. She’s philosophical about her role. “Getting involved has been a great way to learn the profession,” she says, recommending it to others for its educational benefits. “It gives you guidance on how to run a business, how to take care of supplies—basic business you wouldn’t get in dental school. Government isn’t for everyone, but getting involved and being able to express your opinions on something you’re involved in your entire career is really important.”