Dental Health Blog

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).


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


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.


James Snell invents the first reclining dental chair.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.)


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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).


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


  • 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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


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.


The History of Dentistry — The Development of a Profession (18th Century)

We will continue with Part 3 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 3 will focus on the development of the dental profession (18th century).

Paul Revere engaged in America’s first instance of forensic dentistry. After examining bodies found in a mass grave, Revere recognized the dental bridge he had created for his friend Dr. Joseph Warren, and was therefore able to identify his body.



Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon publishes The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise on Teeth (Le Chirurgien Dentiste). Fauchard is credited as being the Father of Modern Dentistry because his book was the first to describe a comprehensive system for the practice of dentistry including basic oral anatomy and function, operative and restorative techniques, and denture construction.


Claude Mouton describes a gold crown and post to be retained in the root canal. He also recommends white enameling for gold crowns for a more esthetic appearance.


John Baker, the earliest medically-trained dentist to practice in America, immigrates from England and sets up practice.


Isaac Greenwood practices as the first native-born American dentist.


Paul Revere places advertisements in a Boston newspaper offering his services as a dentist. In 1776, in the first known case of post-mortem dental forensics, Revere verifies the death of his friend, Dr. Joseph Warren in the Battle of Breed’s Hill, when he identifies the bridge that he constructed for Warren.


Frenchman Nicolas Dubois de Chemantreceives the first patent for porcelain teeth.


  • John Greenwood, son of Isaac Greenwood and one of George Washington’s dentists, constructs the first known dental foot engine. He adapts his mother’s foot treadle spinning wheel to rotate a drill.
  • Josiah Flagg, a prominent American dentist, constructs the first chair made specifically for dental patients. To a wooden Windsor chair, Flagg attaches an adjustable headrest, plus an arm extension to hold instruments.


The History of Dentistry — The Beginnings of a Profession (Middle Ages)

We will continue with Part 2 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 2 will focus on the beginnings of a profession (Middle Ages).

Published in Paris in 1585, illustrations of dental instruments from Ambrose Pare’s Ouvres, Complete Works.


A medical text in China mentions the use of “silver paste,” a type of amalgam.


Guild of Barbers is established in France. Barbers eventually evolve into two groups: surgeons who were educated and trained to perform complex surgical operations; and lay barbers, or barber-surgeons, who performed more routine hygienic services including shaving, bleeding and tooth extraction.


A series of royal decrees in France prohibit lay barbers from practicing all surgical procedures except bleeding, cupping, leeching, and extracting teeth.


The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth (Artzney Buchlein), the first book devoted entirely to dentistry, is published in Germany. Written for barbers and surgeons who treat the mouth, it covers practical topics such as oral hygiene, tooth extraction, drilling teeth, and placement of gold fillings.


In France Ambrose Pare, known as the Father of Surgery, publishes his Complete Works. This includes practical  information about dentistry such as tooth extraction and the treatment of tooth decay and jaw fractures.

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Celebrating Claudia!

We just love to party!  Especially when the occasion is something as special as a new baby!  The team at Bell Family Dentistry hosted a baby shower for Claudia on Friday, October 6.  Congratulations, mommy-to-be!

Baby Shower for Claudia!

The Bell Family Dentistry team celebrated Office Manager Claudia LaSmith’s baby shower yesterday at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Durham.  Baby girl LaSmith is due in November!

Office Manager attends Leadership seminar

Claudia LaSmith, office manager at Bell Family Dentistry, attended a leadership seminar in Raleigh last week with fellow AADOM members.  The topic, “Making the Shift:  From Manager to Leader”, was presented by Mindy Altermatt, a professional success coach.  Mindy states, “Making the shift from manager to leader is an internal process.  It is about seeing yourself as a leader, designing a strong vision, and then behaving in ways that inspire others to follow that vision…Big Vision, Bold Action, Brave Accountability.”

We are so appreciative that Claudia is a effective and proven leader, connecting with and inspiring her team at Bell Family Dentistry every day!

Claudia with speaker Mindy Altermatt and other AADOM Triangle area Chapter Board Members

The History of Dentistry – Ancient Origins

Today’s dentistry has come a long way since its origins.  Just in the last couple of decades, I’m sure many of us can remember the little bowl with running water next to the dental chair to spit into… and the tiny square xrays you would see on the viewbox on the countertop.  Forward to 2017 and we are thankful to have the water rinse and oral suction, as well as digital radiographs and intra-oral pictures!

We will begin 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 I will focus on the ancient origins of dentistry.

Two donor teeth found on a 4,000-year-old mummy.

5000 BC

Sumerian text of this date describes “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay.

2600 BC

Death of Hesy-Re, an Egyptian scribe, often called the first “dentist.” An inscription on his tomb includes the title “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” This is the earliest known reference to a person identified as a dental practitioner.

1700-1550 BC

An Egyptian text, the Ebers Papyrus, refers to diseases of the teeth and various toothache remedies.

500-300 BC

Hippocrates and Aristotle write about dentistry, including the eruption pattern of teeth, treating decayed teeth and gum disease, extracting teeth with forceps, and using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws.

100 BC

Celsus, a Roman medical writer, writes extensively in his important compendium of medicine on oral hygiene, stabilization of loose teeth, and treatments for toothache, teething pain, and jaw fractures.

166-201 AD

The Etruscans practice dental prosthetics using gold crowns and fixed bridgework.

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New technologies on the horizon

From the September 2, 2017 article from “DentistryIQ”, Richard H. Nagelberg, DDS, discusses how new dental and medical technologies are on the horizon, and they could make things very interesting for future diagnostics, prevention, and treatment of various diseases and conditions.

A FEW DECADES AGO, WHEN COMPUTERS WERE LIMITED to large corporate, academic, and governmental institutions, the most forward-thinking individuals in the computer field could not remotely fathom how computers would be intertwined into virtually every aspect of daily life as they are today. An early paper on the impact of computers in the educational setting indicated that they may have an application in language learning. Even the biggest movers and shakers back then couldn’t envision the future.

It is unlikely today, too, that we can truly predict what the future will look like. There are so many disruptive technologies and ideas that are just beyond the horizon. Technologies such as stem cells for regeneration of oral tissues are well-known, as is salivary diagnostic technology. If we try to take a leap beyond the near term and envision dental and medical health care a little farther in the future, we will see phenomenal changes.

Plasma toothbrushes are under development. They will use pulsed atmospheric plasma to create ions and electrons that weaken and remove the bond between plaque and the tooth’s surface. Salivary biomarkers or dozens of diseases have already been identified. Lab-on-a-chip technology has also been developed. Several biomarkers are embedded in a cassette, a little bigger than a smartphone. There will come a time in our lifetimes in which we walk into a drugstore, select cassettes that contain the disease biomarkers we are interested in, put a few drops of saliva into the collection port in the cassette, and stick the cassette into an analyzer, which is a little larger than a toaster oven. In a matter of minutes, a report will appear on our smartphone, indicating whether or not we are at risk for the diseases identified by the cassette we selected.

Chewing gum that identifies the presence of inflammation by emitting a bitter flavor has passed proof of concept. It requires no learning curve, no special equipment, no expertise; just chew this gum for a few minutes to determine if you have peri-implantitis. When the sensory gum is expanded to include many more diseases, its ability to test entire populations could have an enormous impact on the identification of disease globally.

These are but a few of the large constellation of initiatives underway around the world. It is truly an exciting time in dental and medical health care. We are on the cusp of enormous changes involving virtually every aspect of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases and conditions that have been around for eons. How fortunate that we are here to witness and participate in these changes.   –R. Nagelberg


Source:  DentistryIQ, 9-2-17;

Small Hands Big Hearts United charity run

On Saturday, August 26, Bell Family Dentistry was proud to sponsor and participate in the annual charity run of Small Hands Big Hearts United. Ashley, Claudia, and Dr Bell are all smiles after they crossed the finish line!

Small Hands Big Hearts United

Bell Family Dentistry is proud to again sponsor Small Hands Big Hearts United with the SHBHU Java Jive Jog 10k/5k. The race is scheduled for Saturday, August 26th, 2017 at Java Jive located at 2425 Kildaire Farm Road in Cary, NC.

The SHBHU Java Jive Jog is Small Hands Big Hearts United’s largest fundraiser each year. SHBHU uses the funds raised from this race to provide a year round resource for ACCESSIBLE Volunteer Opportunities for children of any age. The money raised is also used to provide a means for these children and teens to independently propose, lead, and organize Compassion Missions for local and global causes they are personally passionate about. Through your generosity and support, these Small Handers and Ambassador Teens have done some amazing things since the organization started in 2013.

If you’d like to donate or run/walk in the event, please go to the following website to register!