The History of Dentistry — Advances in Science and Education (19th Century)

We will continue with Part 4 of a 5-part series with fun facts and interesting inventions in the field of dentistry.  The following historical timeline is presented by the American Dental Association. Part 4 will focus on advances and science and education (19th century).

1801

Richard C. Skinner writes the Treatise on the Human Teeth, the first dental book published in America.

1825

Samuel Stockton begins commercial manufacture of porcelain teeth. His S.S. White Dental Manufacturing Companyestablishes and dominates the dental supply market throughout the 19th century.

1832

James Snell invents the first reclining dental chair.

1833-1850

The Crawcours (two brothers from France) introduce amalgam filling material in the United States under the name Royal Mineral Succedaneum. The brothers are charlatans whose unscrupulous methods spark the “amalgam wars,” a bitter controversy within the dental profession over the use of amalgam fillings.

1839

  • The American Journal of Dental Science, the world’s first dental journal, begins publication.
  • Charles Goodyear invents the vulcanization process for hardening rubber. The resulting Vulcanite, an inexpensive material easily molded to the mouth, makes a excellent base for false teeth, and is soon adopted for use by dentists. In 1864 the molding process for vulcanite dentures is patented, but the dental profession fights the onerous licensing fees for the next twenty-five years.

1840

  • Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris found the world’s first dental school, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, and establish the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. (The school merges with the University of Maryland in 1923).
  • The American Society of Dental Surgeons,the world’s first national dental organization, is founded. (The organization dissolves in 1856.)

1841

Alabama enacts the first dental practice act, regulating dentistry in the United States. The act called for the assignment of a dentist to the state’s medical board in order to grant licenses for practicing dentistry in the state, however, the act was never enforced, few dentists are ever assigned a seat on the medical board and only a couple of dental licenses are ever granted during the forty years it was on the books.

1846

Dentist William Morton conducts the first successful public demonstration of the use of ether anesthesia for surgery. The previous year Horace Wells, also a dentist, had conducted a similar demonstration that was regarded a failure when the patient cried out. Crawford Long, a physician, later claims he used ether as an anesthetic in an operation as early as 1842, but he did not publish his work.

1855

Robert Arthur originates the cohesive gold foil method allowing dentists to insert gold into a cavity with minimal pressure. The foil is fabricated by annealing, a process of passing gold through a flame making it soft and malleable.

1859

Twenty-six dentists meet in Niagara Falls, New York, and form the American Dental Association.

1864

Sanford C. Barnum develops the rubber dam, a piece of elastic rubber fitted over a tooth by means of weights. This simple device isolates the tooth from the oral cavity, a troublesome problem for dentists.

1866

Lucy Beaman Hobbs graduates from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery, becoming the first woman to earn a dental degree.

1867

The Harvard University Dental School, the first university-affiliated dental institution, is founded. The school calls its degree the Dentariae Medicinae Doctorae (DMD), creating a continuing semantic controversy (DDS vs. DMD).

1869

Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman, graduating from Harvard University Dental School, becomes the first African-American to earn a dental degree.

1871

  • James B. Morrison patents the first commercially manufactured foot-treadle dental engine. Morrison’s inexpensive, mechanized tool supplies dental burs with enough speed to cut enamel and dentin smoothly and quickly, revolutionizing the practice of dentistry.
  • The American George F. Green receives a patent for the first electric dental engine, a self-contained motor and handpiece.

1877

The Wilkerson chair, the first pump-type hydraulic dental chair, is introduced.

1880s

The collapsible metal tube revolutionizes toothpaste manufacturing and marketing. Dentifrice had been available only in liquid or powder form, usually made by individual dentists, and sold in bottles, porcelain pots, or paper boxes. Tube toothpaste, in contrast, is mass-produced in factories, mass-marketed, and sold nation-wide. In twenty years, it becomes the norm.

1883

The National Association of Dental Examiners is founded by the members of the dental boards of several states in order to establish uniform standards in the qualifications for dental practitioners, the administration of dental boards overseeing licensing and the legislation of dental practice acts.

1885

The first female dental assistant is employed by C. Edmond Kells, a prominent New Orleans dentist. Her duties include chair-side assistance, instrument cleaning, inventory, appointments, bookkeeping, and reception. Soon “Lady in Attendance” signs are routinely seen in the windows of 19th century dental offices. The American Dental Assistants Association is founded in 1924 by Juliette Southard and her female colleagues.

1887

Stowe & Eddy Dental Laboratory, the first successful industrial-type laboratory in the U.S., opens in Boston, marking the ascendancy of the modern commercial dental laboratory. The earliest known dental laboratory in the U.S. was Sutton & Raynor which opened in New York City around 1854.

1890

  • Ida Gray, the first African-American woman to earn a dental degree, graduates from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.
  • Willoughby Miller an American dentist in Germany, notes the microbial basis of dental decay in his book Micro-Organisms of the Human Mouth. This generates an unprecedented interest in oral hygiene and starts a world-wide movement to promote regular toothbrushing and flossing.

1895

Wilhelm Roentgen, a German physicist, discovers the x-ray. In 1896 prominent New Orleans dentist C. Edmond Kells takes the first dental x-ray of a living person in the U.S.

1899

Edward Hartley Angle classifies the various forms of malocclusion. Credited with making orthodontics into a dental specialty, Angle also establishes the first school of orthodontics (Angle School of Orthodontia in St. Louis, 1900), the first orthodontic society (American Society of Orthodontia, 1901), and the first dental specialty journal (American Orthodontist, 1907)

Dr. Charles Edmund Kells wrote that he “believed the Roentgen ray [x-ray] is the greatest asset of the oral diagnostician.”

James Snell of London designed and created the first fully adjustable dental chair in 1832.

Credit:  http://www.ada.org/en/about-the-ada/ada-history-and-presidents-of-the-ada/ada-history-of-dentistry-timeline.

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