If you think going to the dentist today is bad, imagine what it was like in the past. Back in the early 19th Century, dentists were primarily concerned with repairing or replacing teeth that developed cavities or had other problems.
Pliers were one of the more commonly used tools of dentists. Dentistry was considered more of a mechanical trade than the profession it is today.
Born in 1836, G.V. Black, the "Father of Modern Dentistry," changed all of that. After originally establishing his practice in 1856, his work began in earnest following his service for the Union army during the Civil War.
Black's many discoveries and innovations elevated dentistry into a scientific, professional field of work. His first book, The Formation of Poisons by Microorganisms, noted that microorganisms were largely responsible for disease, including dental caries (cavities). Black's Classification of Caries Lesions organized cavities into distinct classes, and is still in use today, with only one category added.
His 1891 articles on "The Management of Enamel Margins" introduced the iconic phrase "Extension for Prevention," which is still famous today in regards to preparing cavities for filling.
Speaking of fillings, in 1896 Black perfected a balanced amalgam formula for fillings that remained in use for over 70 years, as well as a dental drill powered by a foot pedal that made treating cavities substantially easier.
Perhaps most importantly, Black introduced the use of nitrous oxide to dentistry. Now you know a bit more about an incredible scientific pioneer, someone who helped revolutionize the dental profession, and helped make it what it is today.
Neal Family Dental
Alan Neal, DMD, FAGD
333 NW 3rd Ave, Canby, OR 97013