Pioneers of Modern Dentistry : Part 2

Pioneers of Modern Dentistry : Part 2

Welcome to the next in our series about pioneers of modern dentistry. You can read Part 1 here which describes some of the earliest known evidence of dentistry and some historical trailblazers up the 1700s.

Things started to get even more interesting in 1840 which was seen as a turning point due to the founding of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. Here science based investigation came to the fore and enabled safer and more effective work to be done in the mouth. Although many of the implements used would still be very alarming to a patient in a modern surgery.

george washington denture

George Washington's Lower Denture

Dentistry Pioneers of the 1800s

G.V. Black (1836–1915)

  • Sometimes known as the father of modern American dentistry, G.V. Black was a Civil War era practitioner
  • This pioneer was a mostly self-taught Illinois farm boy with little formal schooling. However his aptitude and thirst for learning led him to learn everything there was to know about the current state of mid 1800s dentistry in a few short months.
  • His brilliant mind then turned to inventing better instruments and alloys plus systems for cataloguing knowledge. His cavity classification system is still in use today. And his "balanced amalgam formula" became the gold standard for 70 years.
  • In due course he became Dr Black, the dean of Northwestern University Dental School
GV Black Cavity Classifications

Norman William Kingsley (1829-1913)

norman w kingsley
  • Both a dentist and an artist, Norman was born in New York. The oldest of six children, his uncle introduced him to dentistry and he eventually opened his own practice in Manhattan
  • Through the influence of one of his mentors, he attained renowned skills in sculpting which he applied to dental prosthesis.
  • Kingsley made valuable contributions to the development of orthodontic treatments and was dedicated to devising cleft palate therapy. He designed the first soft rubber palatal obturator (a prosthesis to cover an opening) which enabled those afflicted to enjoy normal speech and functions of the mouth.
  • In due course he moved into teaching, being the Founder of the New York College of Dentistry and serving at its first dean.

More pearly white Pioneers of Dentistry to come. Look out for Part III in due course..

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