What institutions did she attend?

  • St Anthony of Padua High School, Minnesota, USA
  • Emmanuel College, Massachusetts, USA- BA in Chemistry
  • University of Minnesota, Minnesota, USA- Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
  • Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, USA- Masters in Public Health (MPH)

Other Achievements

  • First female graduate to receive the 2008 Distinguished Dental Alumna Award from the University of Minnesota
  • Honorary Fellowship, Academy of Dentistry International
  • Contribution to Dentistry in the Caribbean, Caribbean Atlantic Regional Dental Association
  • Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary Foundation of Rotary International


Growing up, she was an active Girl Scout and earned many badges. She also had the memorable experience of ice skating on the Mississippi River.

Rosalie Ann Warpeha (29th Nov 1941-10th Mar 2006)

Caribbean Women in STI

Dr Rosalie Ann Warpeha, a Marist nun and a trained dentist, is internationally recognised for pioneering the use of salt fluoridation to help prevent tooth decay in children in Jamaica. Salt fluoridation involves adding fluoride to salt. The programme was started in Jamaica, where there is a paucity of dentists and many areas without fluoridated water, which contribute to poor dental health among children. Never tried before in the Caribbean, the programme led to an 87 per cent reduction in tooth decay in 6-year olds, an 84 per cent reduction in 12 year olds, and a 69 per cent reduction in 15 year olds. This translated into substantially fewer decayed, missing or filled teeth.

The idea of salt fluoridation arose from her frustration at being able to assist only those persons who visited her clinic. It was an ideal preventive and cost-effective method to improve the dental services provided to the poor. Her clinical work and research in this area made Jamaica an international best practice standard for salt fluoridation.

Fondly referred to as “Sister Doctor”, Dr Warpeha served as a dentist for well over 30 years in various positions in the public health sector. She was committed to the development, expansion and improvement of dental health knowledge and practice, and focussed her attention on preventive programmes, research and teaching. Some highlights of her career include being Regional Dental Surgeon in western Jamaica and later, Principal Dental Surgeon. She also lectured at the Dental Auxiliary School, where she spearheaded curriculum changes and mentored numerous students and colleagues. She was described by her peers as an enthusiastic co-worker and a humble individual.

She was active in the Jamaica Dental Association as a member of the executive, head of the Standards Committee, and member of the Dental Health Committee, a major outreach arm of the association. As an ex-officio Dental Council Member, she helped to effect policies to promote good governance in dentistry in her adopted homeland. Considered by her peers as the “Mother of Community Dentistry in the Caribbean”, she gave service as a volunteer dentist in Guyana, Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, as well as Vietnam. She also helped to promote public dental health and salt fluoridation internationally.

Rosalie Ann Warpeha was born on 29th November, 1941 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Her mother was a kind, selfless person whilst her father, a dentist as well, felt everyone had a duty to serve mankind. Both of these qualities were passed on to her. She joined the Marist Missionary Sisters in 1960 and was later assigned to serve as a dentist in Jamaica. She was the only female in her graduating class.

She passed away on 10th March, 2006. During her life, she gave her all for what she firmly believed in – service to God and service to people.


What is a dentist?

A dentist is a doctor who examines and treats problems with our teeth and mouth tissue, and who provides guidance and teaches us how to practise proper dental hygiene and care. Dentists examine patients’ teeth and oral cavity to ensure that they are healthy and disease free. If cavities are found, they treat the cavity by adding fillings, a crown or doing a tooth extraction. They use X-ray machines and other equipment to examine the jaw for diseases and perform needed treatment.

Some dentists also do aesthetic improvements and surgical restoration as in the case of accident victims. Creativity and dexterity are needed to perform cosmetic and restorative work.

Areas of Specialisation

  • Aesthetic dentistry
  • Endodontics
  • Forensic odontology
  • Orthodontics
  • Oral pathology
  • Public dental health
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Paediatric dentistry

What do I need to study?

At CSEC and CAPE: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics

A degree in dentistry and certification from the professional body are required to become a licensed dentist.

What skills and traits do I need?

  • Patience and concentration
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Good spatial judgement
  • Visual memory
  • Manual dexterity
  • Strong diagnostic skills
  • Creativity

Famous Dentists

  • Pierre Fauchard
  • Norman W. Kingsley
  • J. N. Farrar
  • Green Vardiman Black
  • Chapin Harris
  • Earl W. Renfroe
  • Rosalie Fougelberg