Women in Dentistry - Lydia Legg

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.

Lydia Legg, DDS

WVU School of Dentistry, Class of 2007

Meet the Dentist

Dr. Lydia Legg is a reconstructive maxillofacial prosthodontist and oral oncologist. She received her DDS from West Virginia University, and advanced prosthodontic graduate training in prosthodontics at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. She furthered her surgical knowledge in osseous implants as the implant fellow in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. She also completed a fellowship in maxillofacial prosthetics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Legg is the Director of Reconstructive Maxillofacial Prosthetics in the Department of Otolaryngology, Division of Surgery at Mass Eye and Ear, and in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Division of Surgery at Mass General Brigham. She has affiliations with the Dana Farber and Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. Dr. Legg is also part of the multidisciplinary team at the Cleft and Craniofacial Center at the Shriner’s Hospital. She is an Instructor in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Restorative Dentistry and Biomaterials Sciences at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. In her clinical practice, she specializes in craniofacial
reconstructive surgery and prosthetics, whether acquired as a result of cancer surgery or trauma, or from alterations in growth and development or congenitally. She also has a focus on additive manufacturing in maxillofacial prosthetics and implant surgery. She has extensive training and clinical experience in virtual surgical planning and immediate implant placement in free fibula flap reconstruction at the time of ablative surgery. Her team has streamlined the second stage surgery with the help of additive manufacturing. Dr. Legg is also a field grade officer (Major) in the US Army Dental Corps, for which she has served for the past 10 years. She thrives on a comprehensive team approach to caring for patients with craniofacial deformities and head and neck cancer, which she attributes to her training within the Army. She treats a broad range of adult and pediatric patients with craniofacial deformities requiring extraoral prosthetics and implant surgery. She also has a strong interest in translational and clinical research.

Deciding Dentistry

Question: Why did you decide to become a dentist?
Answer: Dentistry seemed like a perfect fit for me. I was very artistic growing up, and had a desire serve in healthcare. I watched my father, R. Brooks Legg, Jr., DDS, from a very young age, develop relationships with his patients while serving his community in rural Clay, WV for decades. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and continue the legacy at WVU School of Dentistry. Those were big shoes to fill!

“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 cannot attribute the transition to one specific occurrence. There were times in my third and fourth years that I started gaining momentum of increased confidence. I strongly embraced the enormous professional responsibility we owe each patient. When I passed the last section of boards, I felt like I was on top of the world. This feeling was short lived once I went into practice with my father a couple months later. I began to observe and appreciate the vast clinical knowledge of my father, that can only come with experience and time. I knew at this time that my dental education had not finished but had just begun. I was very blessed to have had such a great mentor following dental school.

Question: What are some future aspirations? What is on your bucket list?
Answer: I believe that you should dream big, whether personally and/or professionally. I am a maxillofacial prosthodontist and oral oncologist. I was recruited to Boston to establish the first service at Mass General Brigham and at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. My goals are to establish the 6th NCI funded Cancer Center in the nation. In addition, I dream of developing a fund that can directly impact my patients with financial strain due to various treatment modalities. Lastly, I plan to continue my research additive manufacturing and regenerative medicine, in aspirations to develop alternatives to resin and silicone prostheses.

"Difficulties make you a jewel!"
-Japanese Proverb

Question: Was there a time when you experienced resistance and in turn exercised resilience in achieving your career aspirations?
Answer: During my career, I have experienced numerous bouts of resistance.  A dear mentor of mine has always encouraged me to stay the path and keep my eye on the prize. It is important to stay focused and exercise compassion during times of turmoil and resistance. Whatever higher power you believe in, lean on that. It will get you through tough times. As First Lady Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.”

"We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, but a small group of determined people can change the course of history."
-Sonia Johnson

Question: Do you recall a special time of giving back, volunteering or serving the community?
Answer: I come from a family of individuals who served the community. While in dental school, I began volunteering in Mission of Mercy (MOM) events. MOM is a community event designed to provide medical and dental therapy to patients in remote areas with barriers to health care.  This continued well into residency. Whether it was performing root canal therapy in a girls’ locker room shower, completing over 100+ extractions in a classroom or fabricating complete dentures in a 24-hour time period, I loved every minute of it! The time shared with colleagues is also very rewarding. The late Muhammad Ali once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” That is something I keep in the forefront of my mind.