Ohio History Journal

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The Genesis of Dental Education in the United States. By

Van B. Dalton. (Columbus, Spahr & Glenn, c1946. 216p., illus.)

Visiting foreign lecturers are often heard to remark to their

admiring audiences that the United States' only contributions to

the culture of the world are the modern bathrooms and the comic

strip. They would no doubt admit, however, that they had been

guilty of one omission and that is the Art and Science of Modern


In The Genesis of Dental Education in the United States, Dr.

Van B. Dalton, a practicing dentist of Cincinnati, has traced the

amazingly rapid development of this boon to suffering humanity.

When one remembers that dental care, with its associated ills, is

the most prevalent disease affecting mankind, and that the archae-

ologists have assured us that even prehistoric man was not free

from these afflictions, it is with no little wonder that we read that

it was not until the year 1827 that a system of formal education

was created for instruction in the practice of dentistry.

Dr. Dalton gives proper homage to earlier individuals who

pioneered in dental science, such as the French dentist, Pierre

Fauchard, who during the early eighteenth century wrote a two-

volume work revealing amazing insight into dental problems;

Robert Woofendale, the New York dentist educated in England,

who is recognized as the first American to place a gold filling

(1895); and those two great American dentists, Dr. Horace

Wells, the discoverer of surgical anaesthesia, and Dr. William

T. S. Morton, the Boston dentist who first publicly demonstrated

the use of ether in surgery.

These gentlemen and others like them were forced to serve

as apprentices in order to learn their techniques, and this process

was haphazard and laborious until one Dr. John Harris, a prac-

ticing physician in the little town of Bainbridge, Ohio, decided

that the time had come to end all this.