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Dentistry in the United States

dental, schools, college, surgery, degree, time and dentists

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DENTISTRY . IN THE UNITED STATES. From the earliest times dentistry was practised as a branch of surgery. Herod otus speaks of means of preserving the teeth, and artificial teeth are alluded to by Greek and Latin poets. In the United States the first historic mention of dental practice is about the year 1785, and for some 40 years thereafter there were but few dentists in the country, and they were for the most part peripatetic, only the largest cities giving support to a resident den tist. The Baltimore College of Dental Sur gery, established in 1839, was the first institu tion of the kind in the world. It was the direct result of an agitation to put dentists on a higher professional plane and followed an un successful attempt to found dental chairs in medical schools. It had been argued that pathology of the mouth and dental mechanics should be taught in the medical schools as branches of medicine and that graduates choos ing these courses should receive the degree of M.D. as in the case of other branches of medi cine. At the beginning no previous preparatory studies were required. To obtain a graduate's degree the student was required to attend two courses of lectures, each of four months, cov ering dental surgery, dental mechanics and dental pathology. In addition some general in struction was given in anatomy, physiology and therapeutics. A previous experience of five years as a practising dentist was credited as equal to one term's attendance. In 1839 also' the American Journal of Dental Science, the first dental periodical in the world, was estab lished. For five years this was the only pub lication of the kind, but within a few years a dozen had come into being. In 1845 the Ohio College of Dental Surgery (since 1888 the dental department of the University of CinL cinnati), in 1856 the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery, in 1863 the Philadelphia Dental College were founded. These separate schools taught at first very little medicine, but paid attention almost entirely to mechanical training and to those branches which a dentist must know. All conferred the degree of D.D.S. In 1865 the New York College of Dentistry was founded with the purpose of educating men to practise dental surgery as a specialty of medi cine. The curriculum included the fundamental departments of medicine with operative den tistry and oral prosthetics. In 1867 Harvard

University opened a dental department and began to teach dentistry as a branch of medi cine with the special degree D.M.D. (Dentarive medicines. doctor). By this time the practice of dentistry had come to include to a large degree the healing of diseased teeth and mouth tissues; requiring medical as well as dental education. In 1875 the University of Michigan and in 1878 the University of Pennsylvania followed the example of Harvard in opening dental depart ments. Since 1878 there has been a most astonishing increase in dental schools and dental students, due largely to the fact that the dental laws in many States now require graduation from a dental school as a condition for license. In 1878 there were 12 schools and 701 students; in 1910 there were 53 schools and 6,439 students. The number of practitioners of dentistry in the United States in 1917 was 46,223; 115 institutions in the United States (and 7 in Canada) are devoted to the sys. tematic education of dentists; the prof essionlias an extensive literature of standard works and periodical publications, and the furnishing of supplies and material used in dental practice is an enormous industry involving millions of capital, a growth which has all developed within 70 years.

In 1840 the American Society of Dental Surgeons, the pioneer of the associations to which dentistry owes so much of its progress, was organized in New York. This was 101 lowed by the organization of the Virginia So ciety of Surgical Dentists in 1842, and within the next five years several other district and State organizations were formed. The Na tional Association of Dental Faculties, organ ized in 1884, has done much to strengthen courses of study in dental schools. At the time of its organization only those schools were ad. mitted which had proper facilities for instruc tion and a corps of competent teachers. From time to time standards have been raised by rules governing attendance, instruction and graduation. The schools in the association, all require three full courses of dental lectures. The main defect of these schools as a rule is. failure to require a sufficient preliminary gen eral education for admission.

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