Five Famous Dentists Throughout History

1 February 2010

Some of you may find the concept of “famous dentists throughout history” to be a rather strange one. However, we feel that the history of dentistry is just as important to our society as that of any other medical profession. Therefore, we would like to present our picks for the Top Five Famous Dentists Throughout History:

First off, no rundown of famous dentists would be complete without mentioning John Henry “Doc” Holliday, the mysterious and much-storied wild-west dentist who played a part in many famous stories from the days of the old West, mainly, of course, “the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.” However, regardless of the fact that Holliday is mostly known as a extravagant gambler and expert gunslinger, his profession was nonetheless that of being a dentist. His first dental office was located in Atlanta, and then he rambled out to Dallas, Texas where he discovered that he could make more money gambling than practicing dentistry. After that, he ended up in the Wild West where he solidified his place in history by being enmeshed in the turbulent times that were happening there.

Norman W. Kingsley is often called “The Father of Orthodontics”, and for good reason. Back in 1880, he wrote “Treatise on Oral Deformities,” which was hugely influential on the field of dentistry as a whole. On top of being a pioneering dentist, he also was an artist, writer of fiction and sculptor. His 1880 book is still referenced today. He was also the founder of the New York State Dental Society in 1868.

Another famous dentist was originally a psychiatrist. However, Sir James Crichton-Browne, was most famous for his work in connection with the field of dentistry, specifically pediatric dentistry. Besides being an early advocate of dental care for children, this dentist was responsible for the discovery of the benefits of fluorine to fight tooth decay, which was about a half-century ahead of being officially confirmed by dentists worldwide.

Pierre Fauchard, an important French physician, wrote “The Surgeon Dentist” in 1728. This was truly a ground-breaking book that documented thoroughly everything from basic oral anatomy and oral pathology, to methods of treatment for removing tooth decay, orthodontics, replacement of missing teeth, etc., and earned him the title of “The Father of Modern Dentistry.”

Finally, another groundbreaking dentist was Thomas Curtis, the first African-American dentist in Alabama. He served both the dental and African-American communities as a model of what being a dentist should be, and was a huge proponent and advocate for equal rights when it came to the practice and availability of the dental resources for all people.

We here at the Oakville Place Dental Office blog feel that these (and other famous, important dentists) often go under appreciated as far as their historical significance is concerned. So, next time you’re in the dental chair, why not do a little name dropping and mention to your dentist one of these names you’ve learned today. After all, he or she spends so much time every day working on everyone else’s smile, why not try seeing if you can make their smile a little bit brighter too?

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