DENTISTRY- A complete timeline

The progress of dentistry into an advanced science is a truly remarkable one. This timeline only scratches the surface on how this specialty evolved. The importance and value of dental art and science as a humane service are well recognized, but we are so accustomed to view the question from the modern standpoint that we, generally speaking, overlook the immense work done by our predecessors reaching far back in unbroken line to the mists of antiquity. It was they who laid the foundations upon which modern dentistry has been built.

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DENTISTRY- A Complete Timeline

Writers note: 

It took me a while to go through the history topic, which led me to read thousands of articles, watch couple of documentaries, interviews , pieces from newspapers, encyclopedia and Wikipedia, of course. This article covers all the major events around the world, going through different time period, from as early as 1400s to today’s advanced age. Where we compare it to the growth of dental sciences.

Is it really necessary to know history? 

History tells us how we came to know what we know. History has many lessons on what can go wrong. Philosopher George Santayana’s oft-quoted aphorism: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Studying history enables us to develop a better understanding of the world in which we live today. 

This timeline  is about the consideration of dental technology which has started from pre-historic times, placing advances and discoveries in the context of other developments of the day. Throughout the series, these historic comparisons with the major world events will be used to illuminate 21st-century technology and shed light on how history has a role in dental advances and what the future may hold. The rich history of the world helps us to paint a picture of where we stand and what we do today.

I completely dedicate this article to all the dentists, who have, for time immemorial, made a huge impact in the field of medicine and health care and continue to do so. And have inspired thousands of students, including me, to become like them.


Although most of the new equipment and products entered the profession in the past 10 years, their technology was based on discoveries made in the latter half of the 20th century. A similar phenomenon occurred from 1900 to 1910. In that decade, the dental profession embraced x-ray machines and electric motor-driven dental engines. Again, the discoveries of this equipment were based on those in the preceding century—starting in the 1850s. Which again, were based on shreds of evidence that date back to the agricultural revolution and the domestication of plants and animals. 

Given the rapid evolution of technology in the decade from 2000 to 2010, it is reasonable to inquire if something in our society created an environment that encouraged change. It is also logical to consider if, in the decade from 1900 to 1910, a similar environment existed. The discoveries and cultural attitudes in the preceding century will be explored to uncover how the new equipment and products had developed and what might have promoted an environment that encouraged change.

  1. PRE-HISTORY TO 1400 

The first Dental evidences dates back to The Agricultural Revolution, when Humans first started domestication of Plants and Animals. (c. 11,000-4,000 BCE)

In China, Rudimentary dental extractions were performed as early as 6000 BC, when the first signs of adornment with human teeth were described.

Dated back in 5000 BC, the First Writing Systems Appear in Mesopotamia (Cuneiform), Egypt (Hieroglyphics) and the Indus Valley (Indus Script). A Sumerian text describes “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay. During this time, First Cities also emerged in Mesopotamia.

In 2600 BC, an inscription was found on the tomb of Hey-Re, an Egyptian scribe, often called the “first dentist.” The inscription includes the title “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” This is the earliest known reference to a person identified as a dental practitioner. Around the same time period, in c. 2560 BCE, The Ancient Egyptians Build the Great Pyramid of Giza for Pharaoh Khufu. And in c.1850-800 BCE, the origin and development of Modern Alphabet also occurred in Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Greece.

In 1700-1550 BC, An Egyptian text, the Ebers Papyrus, refers to diseases of the teeth and various toothache remedies; Egyptian textbooks, written in the form of papyri and many of these medical papyri have survived. The famous ones are the Edwin Smith papyrus, the Ebers papyrus, the Kahun gynecological papyrus and the London and Leiden papyrus.

Dr. Rafiuddin Ahmed: “Father of modern dentistry” of India.

But medicine in ancient Egypt was tainted with religion. For example, the Ebers papyrus, the largest and one the oldest preserved medical document dating from 1552 BC, describes many diseases concerning the heart and vessels. It also contains chapters on contraception, diagnosis of pregnancy and other gynecological matters, intestinal disease and parasites, eye and skin problems, dentistry and the surgical treatment of abscesses and tumors, bone-setting and burns. Mental disorders such as depression and dementia are also covered. However, for most of these diseases, in addition to prescriptions, the papyrus describes some 700 magical formulas and remedies and contains many incantations meant to turn away disease-causing demons.

800 BC: Development of modern letters and language; Greeks adapt the Phoenician alphabet by converting some of the letters to vowels; the Greek alphabet gives rise to the Roman and Crylic alphabets.

DENTISTRY- A complete timeline

Dr Josef Mengele: Eugenics and the Second World War

As Knowledge of Iron Metallurgy Spreads, the Bronze Age Ends and the Iron Age Begins: c. 1200-500 BCE 

500-300 BC

Here, first medical evidence dates back to 400 BCE, when the first Hippocratic Oath for physicians were formulated. 

 Hippocrates grew to become the greatest physician of the classical world and is considered “the father of Western medicine”. He taught and practiced medicine throughout his life and is credited for founding the 

Hippocratic School of medicine.Although Hippocrates work was based on observation of clinical signs and rational conclusions, many of his theories were not based on logic, particularly his theory on “humorism”, which was an extension of the Pythagorean theory on nature. Hippocrates believed that illness was the result of an imbalance in the body of the four humours: blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm (dyscrasia, meaning “bad mixture”)

Dr James Marion: An Abuser Disguised as the “Father of Modern Gynaecology”

Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and a student of Plato for nearly twenty years. In 335 BC, Aristotle established his own school known as the Lyceum and taught there for the next twelve years. It is during this period in Athens from 335 to 323 BC, that Aristotle is believed to have composed many of his works (Russell, 1972). Aristotle studied almost every subject possible at the time and made significant contributions to most of them. He studied anatomy, astronomy, embryology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics and zoology. He also wrote on aesthetics, ethics, government, metaphysics, politics, economics, psychology, rhetoric and theology and studied education, foreign customs, literature and poetry.

His combined works constitute a virtual encyclopedia of Greek knowledge, but his main contribution to the human mind is, no doubt, the introduction of the concept of “logic”, where all natural phenomena and laws were to be based on common sense (if A = B and if B = C, then A = C). The adoption of this principle in all areas of knowledge gave a strong boost to the human mind and continues to do so. Twenty-three hundred years after his death, Aristotle remains one of the most influential people who ever lived and leaves every scientist and philosopher in debt to his essential contribution to the scientific method.

During this time, Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry, including the eruption pattern of teeth, treating decayed teeth and gum disease, extracting teeth with forceps, and using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws.

During this era of Ancient Greek medicine,

  • Buddhism was born and spreading all across Asia. (563-400 BC )
  • Foundation of Roman Republic. (500 BC )
  • Foundations were laid down for building the Great Wall of China. (221-206 BC )

100 BC: (Medicine and Dentistry in Roman Empire)

Natural teeth were considered valuable in Ancient Rome. An article in the Roman Law of the Twelve Tables, states: ‘Whoever shall cause the tooth of a free man to be knocked out shall pay a fine of three hundred as’.

Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 BC – c. 50 AD) was a Roman encyclopedists, known for his medical work, De Medicine.

The Romans were well known for their cleanliness and this may have extended to their teeth with Celsus, recommending that city dwellers should wash their mouths in the morning.

Celsus, writes extensively in his important compendium of medicine on oral hygiene, stabilization of loose teeth, and treatments for toothache, teething pain, and jaw fractures.

In the Roman empire, extractions were undertaken by physicians. They used crude forceps. Dentures were made from ivory, bone or boxwood. Getting a good fit must have been a problem as Horace ( 65 BC– 8BC) describes two witches running so fast that one of their denture’s fell out. 

45 BC- 200 AD (The Birth of the Modern Calendar)

The Romans predecessors in northern Italy, The Etruscans were a group of agricultural people who evolved into an urban population of craftsmen, traders, and navigators who lived in a network of cities and dominated the area of the Mediterranean around Italy in the 8th and 9th centuries BC. What has come to be known, and is of importance in our study of the history of dentistry are a significant number of very interesting works of art which include gold dental prostheses. The Etruscan prostheses are remarkable because they used gold bands which were soldered into rings instead of the gold wires which are seen in other cultures ( Egyptians, Phoenicians) of the same time.

They made beautiful bridges of ox bone with gold wire, the quality of which was not to be seen again for well, over a millennium. The Etruscans practiced dental prosthetics using gold crowns and fixed bridgework. (166-200 AD)

During this period, birth and spreading of Christianity occurred (across Israel) and Thessalonians was the earliest known Christian text.

Dr Rupa Bai Furdoonji – The first female anaesthetist of the world

500- 700CE 

After the birth of Prophet Mohammad in 570 CE, Islam was born and spreading across the country. During this Islamic Golden Age ( 625 CE), Dentistry was discussed in several famous books of medicine such as The canon in medicine  written by Avicenna and Al-Tasreef by Al Zahrawi, who is considered the greatest surgeon of the Middle Ages.

Avicenna said that jaw fracture should be reduced according to the occlusal guidance of the teeth; this principle is still valid in modern times. while Al-Zahrawi made a lot of surgical tools that resemble the modern tools.

Around the same time, the earliest dental filling material, amalgam, was first documented in Tang Dynasty, China. A medical text written by the Chinese physician Su Kung, mentions the use of “silver paste,” in 659 CE

In 1210 CE,

When Genghis Khan Established a Vast Mongol Empire, and captured China, Europe were firming their ground for education. The worlds first university was established in Bologna, Italy.

A Guild of Barbers were established in France. Barbers eventually evolve into two groups: surgeons who were educated and trained to perform complex surgical operations; and lay barbers, or barber-surgeons, who performed more routine hygienic services including shaving, bleeding and tooth extraction.

Universities began systematic training of physicians around 1220 CE in Italy.

In 1400 CE,

Guy de Chauliac most probably invented the dental pelican (resembling a Pelican’s beak) which was used to perform dental extractions. The pelican was replaced by the dental key later in the 18th century,


Historically, dental extractions have been used to treat a variety of illnesses. During the Middle Ages , dentistry was not a profession in itself, and often dental procedures were performed by barbers or general physicans. Barbers usually limited their practice to extracting teeth which alleviated pain and associated chronic tooth infection. Instruments used for dental extractions date back several centuries. 

1350- 1600  (The Renaissance period/ invention of the printing press)

The Renaissance begins in Florence (Italy), in 1350. A Rediscovery of Classical Knowledge Brings About Innovations and Achievements in Arts and Culture all around Europe.

The first printed book using movable metal was found in Korea.

During this time, The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) Devastated Europe, Killing One-Third of the Population. It caused  bleeding from mouth and cough with blood; became a major diagnosing factor for the plaque amongst the dental practitioners.

In 1400, a series of royal decrees in France prohibit lay barbers from practicing all surgical procedures except bleeding, cupping, leeching, and extracting teeth.

In 1440, printing press was invented by  Johannes Gutenberg, in Germany, using movable metal type and oil based ink, Bringing Inexpensive Printing of Books and Papers to the West.

Around this time, in 1498, Portuguese Explorer Vasco da Gama Finds a Sea Route from Europe to India, Allowing Portugal To Create a Trading Empire and in 1504, Leonardo da Vinci paints the famous portrait, Mona Lisa.

In 1530,The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth (Artzney Buchlein) was written and published in Germany. It is the first book devoted entirely to dentistry. It was Written for barbers and surgeons who treat the mouth, it covered all practical topics such as oral hygiene, tooth extraction, drilling teeth, and placement of gold fillings.

In 1575, Ambrose Pare, known as the Father of Surgery, published his Complete Works. This includes practical information about dentistry such as tooth extraction and the treatment of tooth decay and jaw fractures, in France.

In 1588, England came under Queen Elizabeth I.

During this time:

  • Mughal empire founded by Babur, in 1523 ( India)
  • William Shakespeare Writes the Hamlet in 1599
  • Galileo Galilei Publishes The Starry Messenger, Which Announces a Series of Astronomical Discoveries Made Using a Home-Made Telescope in 1609-1610 (Italy)
  • England Undergoes A Civil War and monarchy is restored again in 1660.



16th century is known for its inventions and developments. 

This period saw the most influential and greatest scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, widely recognized as one of the greatest mathematicians and physicists of all times. Newton formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation that provided Foundation for the Science of Physics Until Einstein.

Newton himself often told the story that he was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of an apple from a tree.

In 1650s,

Barbers and general doctors extracted teeth to relieve pain and prevent further spread of decay in other areas of oral cavity.

During this time, Rosemary charcoal was invented by Bankes Hrabal, to clean the mouth by changing the Ph of oral cavity.


In 1723, 

Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon published ‘The Surgeon Dentist’, A Treatise on Teeth (Le Chirurgien Dentiste). Fauchard is credited as being the Father of Modern Dentistry because his book was the first to describe a comprehensive system for the practice of dentistry including basic oral anatomy and function, operative and restorative techniques, and denture construction.

During this time, dentistry as a separate subject was introduced in universities, and a degree could be obtained.

In 1729,

Claude Mouton introduced gold crown and post to be retained in the root canal. He also recommended white enameling for gold crowns, for a more esthetic appearance.

In 1760,

John Baker, immigrates from England and sets up practice in the United States. He is known to be the earliest medically-trained dentist practicing in America from 1775-1783.

Dentistry then starts to spread all across the US, and in 1780, Isaac Greenwood practices as the first native-born American dentist.

In 1776, the first known case of post-mortem dental forensics were recorded, when Paul Revere places advertisements in a Boston newspaper offering his services as a dentist. Revere verifies the death of his friend, Dr. Joseph Warren in the Battle of Breed’s Hill, when he identifies the dental bridge he constructed for Warren before war.

In 1775,

The American Revolution started and ended by 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed and officially ended the war between the US and Great Britain.

After 1750s, following the French Revolution, dentists from both US and Europe were emerging at great pace.

In 1789, Frenchman Nicolas Dubois de Chemant receives the first patent for porcelain teeth( artificial tooth).

Nicolas DuBois de Chémant is one of the pioneers of prosthodontics in making durable and esthetic artificial teeth. He became a Master Surgeon in 1788. He collaborated with Alexis Duchateau (1714-1792) the first to think of replacing the smelly dentures made of hippopotamus bone and extracted teeth, with the use of porcelain. The patent was awarded to Du Chémant in 1791 (in France) and after a court challenge he retained it. Because of the French Revolution, he escaped to England where he secures a second royal patent for his mineral paste teeth.


In 1792, 

  • John Greenwood, son of Isaac Greenwood and one of George Washington’s dentists, constructs the first known dental foot engine. He adapts his mother’s foot treadle spinning wheel to rotate a drill.
  • Josiah Flagg, a prominent American dentist, constructs the first chair made specifically for dental patients. To a wooden Windsor chair, Flagg attaches an adjustable headrest, plus an arm extension to hold instruments. 

1800 (UK)

It was the time when power of steam was Harnessed Engines.
After Richard Trevithick built a high-pressure steam engine, in 1779, Oliver Evans built the first high-pressure steam engine in the US, in 1801.

In 17th century, Innovations in the British Textile Industry led to spark the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century.

4. The Medical Revolution: 1796-1885 (UK; US; France) / ADVANCES IN SCIENCE AND EDUCATION- 19th CENTURY

In 1801, the first dental book was published in America by Richard C. Skinner, who wrote the Treatise on the Human Teeth.

It was the time when the European Powers Colonized Africa.

While in Europe, industrialization began with  mass productions of items using machine and man power in factories.

The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from between 1760 to 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and water power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanized factory system. The Industrial Revolution also led to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth.

1820, The invention of the collapsible metal tube revolutionized the toothpaste manufacturing and marketing. Earlier, Dentifrice had been available only in liquid or powder form, usually made by individual dentists, and sold in bottles, porcelain pots, or paper boxes. Tube toothpaste, in contrast, was mass-produced in factories, mass-marketed, and sold nation-wide. 

1825, Samuel Stockton begins commercial manufacture of porcelain teeth. His S.S. White Dental Manufacturing Company establishes and dominates the dental supply market throughout the 19th century.

1832, James Snell invented the first reclining dental chair.

1842, Crawford Long uses ether as an anesthetic in surgery for the first time in Georgia. but does not publish his results until 1849.

1833, The Crawcours (two brothers from France) introduce amalgam filling material in the United States under the name Royal Mineral Succedaneum. The brothers are charlatans whose unscrupulous methods spark the “amalgam wars,” a bitter controversy within the dental profession over the use of amalgam fillings.


  • The American Journal of Dental Science, the world’s first dental journal, gets published and mass produced.
  • Charles Goodyear invents the vulcanization process for hardening rubber. The resulting Vulcanite, an inexpensive material easily gets molded to the mouth, makes a excellent base for false teeth, and is soon adopted for use by dentists. In 1864 the molding process for vulcanite dentures is patented, but the dental profession fights the onerous licensing fees for the next twenty-five years.


  • Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris found the world’s first dental school, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, and establish the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. (The school merges with the University of Maryland in 1923).
  • The American Society of Dental Surgeons, the world’s first national dental organization, is founded.

1841, Alabama enacts the first dental practice act, regulating dentistry in the United States. The act called for the assignment of a dentist to the state’s medical board in order to grant licenses for practicing dentistry in the state, however, the act was never enforced, few dentists are ever assigned a seat on the medical board and only a couple of dental licenses are ever granted during the forty years it was on the books.

In 1846, William Morton uses ether as an anesthetic in surgery in Massachusetts and receives credit for the discovery (US)

1860, Louis Pasteur’s experiments prove the germ theory of disease (France). Pasteur is the first to use weakened virus to make a vaccine, for rabies, in France.

In 1846,Dentist William Morton conducts the first successful public demonstration of the use of ether anesthesia for surgery. The previous year Horace Wells, also a dentist, had conducted a similar demonstration that was regarded a failure when the patient cried out. Crawford Long, a physician, later claims he used ether as an anesthetic in an operation as early as 1842, but he did not publish his work, as mentioned above.

The invention of electromagnetic telegraph, in 1832, Estonia and Germany, revolutionizes communication.

In 1855, Robert Arthur originates the cohesive gold foil method allowing dentists to insert gold into a cavity with minimal pressure. (The foil is fabricated by annealing, a process of passing gold through a flame making it soft and malleable.)

DENTISTRY- A complete timeline

In 1859 (UK), Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species, which Proves that Natural Selection is the Mechanism of Biological Evolution.

DENTISTRY- A complete timeline

In 1859,  Twenty-six dentists meet in Niagara Falls, New York, and form the American Dental Association.

1860, The American Civil War begins and ends in 1865.

In 1864, Sanford C. Barnum develops the rubber dam, a piece of elastic rubber fitted over a tooth by means of weights. This simple device isolates the tooth from the oral cavity, providing a clean and visible field for working. 

1869, The Sues canal linking the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, was inaugurated, connecting US to Africa.

Later in 1875, Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman, graduating from Harvard University Dental School, becomes the first American of African descent to earn a dental degree.


  • James B. Morrison patents the first commercially manufactured foot-treadle dental engine. Morrison’s inexpensive, mechanized tool supplies dental burs with enough speed to cut enamel and dentin smoothly and quickly, revolutionizing the practice of dentistry.
  • The American George F. Green receives a patent for the first electric dental engine, a self-contained motor and hand-piece.

In 1876 (US), Alexander Graham Bell Patents the Telephone.

In 1883,  The National Association of Dental Examiners is founded by the members of the dental boards of several states in order to establish uniform standards in the qualifications for dental practitioners, the administration of dental boards overseeing licensing and the legislation of dental practice acts.

Dental caries vaccination; A revolution in the world of Dentistry.

The Suffrage Movement: Women Fight For the Right to Vote (1893-1928)

In 1848, The Declaration of Sentiments, written by Elizabeth Cady was signed at the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, calls for giving women the right to vote.
In 1885,  The first female dental assistant is employed by C. Edmond Kells, a prominent New Orleans dentist. Her duties include chair-side assistance, instrument cleaning, inventory, appointments, bookkeeping, and reception. Soon “Lady in Attendance” signs are routinely seen in the windows of 19th century dental offices. 

In 1866, Lucy Beaman Hobbs graduates from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery, becoming the first woman to earn a dental degree.

In 1867, The Harvard University Dental School, the first university-affiliated dental institution, is founded. The school calls its degree the Dentariae Medicinae Doctorae (DMD), creating a continuing semantic controversy (DDS vs. DMD). 

In 1924, The American Dental Assistants Association was founded by Juliette Southward and her female colleagues.

During the same time, In 1867, Tokugawa Yoshinobu Abdicates to Emperor Meiji, Ending Shogun Rule in Japan.

In 1893, The self-governing colony of New Zealand grants suffrage to women; Colorado becomes first US state to grant full voting rights to women.

1879-1901 (The Invention of Radio:)

    • 1872: James Clerk Maxwell  establishes the mathematical basis for propagating electromagnetic waves through space (Scotland)
    • 1880: Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Sumner (US) invent the photo-phone, a wireless telephone that transmits sound on a beam of light
    • 1885: Thomas Edison (US) invents a method of electric wireless communication between ships at sea
    • 1886: Heinrich Hertz (Germany) conclusively demonstrates the transmission of electromagnetic waves through space to a receiver.

In 1887, the first successful industrial-type laboratory in the U.S., under the name Stowe & Eddy Dental Laboratory, marking the ascendancy of the modern commercial dental laboratory.


  • Ida Gray, the first African American woman to earn a dental degree, graduates from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.
  • Willoughby Miller an American dentist in Germany, notes the microbial basis of dental decay in his book Micro-Organisms of the Human Mouth. This generates an unprecedented interest in oral hygiene and starts a world-wide movement to promote regular toothbrushing and flossing.

In 1893, Nikola Tesla (Serbia/US) develops a wireless lighting device
In 1894, Chandra Bose (India) demonstrate transmission of radio waves over distance
1895, Marconi (Italy) builds a series of radio devices, including one that can transmit radio waves 1.5 miles.
In 1899, Marconi sends radio waves across the English Channel; Bose develops an improved transmitter and receiver.


The Discovery of X-Rays:  Wilhelm Roentgen, a German physicist, discovers the x-ray. In 1896 prominent New Orleans dentist, C. Edmond Kells takes the first dental x-ray of a living person in the U.S. Röntgen identifies medical use of x-rays. 

In 1896, Thomas Edison (US) invents the fluoroscope for x-ray examinations; John Hall-Edwards (UK) is the first physician to use x-rays under clinical conditions.

Who among them are the first female dentist in India?

In 1899, an American trained dentist, Edward Hartley Angle made orthodontics his speciality and dedicated his life to standardizing the teaching and practice of orthodontics. Angle also establishes the first school of orthodontics (Angle School of Orthodontia in St. Louis, 1900), the first orthodontic society (American Society of Orthodontia, 1901), and the first dental specialty journal (American Orthodontist, 1907)

By 1900, dentistry had made rapid strides. Between 1840 and 1900, the following had occurred: 

dentistry as a profession had been established; a scientific basis for caries and periodontal disease had been demonstrated by Miller and Black; and many diagnostic and therapeutic innovations had been introduced, such as x-rays for diagnosis by Kells and the electric motorized drill for excavation by Harrington. Finally, dental professionals won the “amalgam wars”.

by 1900, the use of amalgam as a restorative material had become the standard of care.


In 1903, 

Orville & Wilbur Wright Fly the First Heavier-than-Air Powered Aircraft. The same year saw an American dentist Charles Land introduced the use of porcelain in crowns, which led to a new era of aesthetic dentistry.

In 1904,  After Defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan was Recognized as a World Power. Around the same time, Alfred Einhorn, a German chemist, formulates the local anesthetic, procain, which was later marketed under the trade name Novocain.

In 1905, Albert Einstein was widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is best known for developing the theory of relativity. He also made important contributions to the development of the theory of quantum mechanics. Einstein shows the equivalence of energy and matter (E = mc2).

In 1907, American dentist William Taggart introduced a precision casting machine. It allowed dentists to create gold restorations of great accuracy with minimum tooth removal.

In 1908, Greene Vardiman Black, the leading reformer and educator of American dentistry, publishes his monumental two-volume treatise Operative Dentistry. It remains the essential clinical dental text for fifty years. Black later develops techniques for filling teeth, standardizes operative procedures and instrumentation. And he develops an improved amalgam, pioneering the use of visual aids for teaching dentistry.

In 1910, The first formal training program for dental nurses is established at the Ohio College of Dental Surgery by Cyrus M. Wright.

In 1911, The U.S. Army Dental Corps is established as the first armed services dental corps in the U.S. The Navy institutes its first Dental Corps in 1912.

In 1913, American dentist Edwin J. Greenfield showed the first modern and truly functional dental implant, paving the way for today’s highly successful implant dentistry. In the same year, Alfred C. Fones opens the Fones Clinic For Dental Hygienists in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the world’s first oral hygiene school. Dr. Fones, first to use the term “dental hygienist,” is known to be the Father of Dental Hygienist. 

In 1917, Irene Newman receives the world’s first dental hygiene license in Connecticut.

During the same time, between 1914-1918, World War I occurred all across Europe, Asia, Africa. And the period between 1917-1922 witnessed The Russian Revolution. By the end of 1922, A Global Influenza Epidemic Kills 20 Million People.

Year 1925 Witnessed The Invention of Television. By 1929, Zworykin demonstrates both transmission and reception of images in an electronic system.

In 1929, the Global Depression occurred across US, Europe and Asia. Which was followed by the Crash of US Stock Market in October 1929.

In 1930, the US Dental Board founded the world’s first dental specialty board, The American Board of Orthodontics. 

The period between 1930-1931 witnessed the Widespread bank failures in US and Europe. The period between 1920-1945, witnesses the Rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Civil wars broke across US, Europe, Asia and Africa. The final blew triggered to World War II, When Germany invaded Poland in 1939.  In 1945:

  • Nazi Germany surrenders to the Allies
  • US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, leading to Japanese surrender.
  • The United Nations Is Formed.
DENTISTRY- A complete timeline
(The first meeting of the UN General Assembly took place in London, UK on January 10, 1946.)


In 1947, India Obtains Its Independence from the UK.

Amidst this period of terror, Dentists were working and developing the scope of dentistry. 

  • In 1935, Dr Alvin and Moses Strock are believed to be the first to place the first endosteal (in the bone) implant made of biocompatible metal, Vitallium. 
  • 1952: A Swedish orthopedic surgeon named Branemark discovered titanium fused and regrew bone while studying blood flow in rabbits.
  • In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signs the Congressional bill formally establishing the National Institute of Dental Research and initiating federal funding for dental research. Dr. H. Trendley Dean is appointed its first director. The Institute is renamed the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in 1998.
  • In 1949, Oskar Hagger, a Swiss chemist, develops the first system of bonding acrylic resin to dentin. ( dental adhesive)
  • In 1955, Michael Buonocore describes the acid etch technique. It’s a simple method of increasing the adhesion of acrylic fillings to enamel.
  • In 1953, the first commercially successful water-driven turbine drill was developed by American dentist Robert Nelson. It led the way to the high-speed dental drill. The Borden air-turbine drill, introduced in 1957 and today used universally, reaches speeds of up to 400,000 revolutions per minute. It allows for greater accuracy and control by the dentist and also greater comfort of the patient. 
  • In 1958, a fully reclining dental chair was also introduced.
  • 1960s saw more innovations in implant design from many different doctors. Implant design expanded to allow for placement into the maxilla or the mandible. And to accommodate more than one missing tooth. Four-handed dentistry became popular in the U.S. during this time. This technique improves productivity and shortens treatment time. Lasers were developed and approved for soft tissue work, such as treatment of periodontal disease. The first commercial electric toothbrush, developed in Switzerland after World War II, was also introduced during this time. A cordless, rechargeable model follows in 1961.
  • In 1962, Rafael Bowen develops Bis-GMA, the thermoset resin complex used in most modern composite resin restorative materials.
  • 1980s: The 1980s ushered in the use of titanium for implants, which have continued to improve to the present day. Recent developments include antibiotic coatings to prevent infection and even more materials like zirconia.


The Invention of the Digital Electric Computer led to The Digital Revolution.

  • In 1965, the first commercially produced personal desktop computer in Italy.
  • In 1957, Soviet Union Launches Sputnik, First Man Made Satellite, in Russia. 
  • In 1969,  Apollo-11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Land on the Moon and Walk on its Surface
  • 1965-1995 (US) saw The Birth of the Internet.


New tooth-colored restorative materials were also introduced. An increase in usage of bleach, veneers, and implants among the dentists inaugurate an era of esthetic dentistry.

Numerous research projects into dental diseases and their treatment are carried out at research centers around the globe. The work done at such institutes promises a future in which new materials and new methods of treatment are also introduced to greatly diminish oral and dental disease.

The progress of dentistry into an advanced science is certainly remarkable. This timeline only scratches the surface on how this specialty evolved. The importance and value of dental art and science as a humane service are well recognized. But we are so accustomed to view the question from the modern standpoint that we, generally speaking, overlook the immense work done by our predecessors reaching far back in unbroken line to the mists of antiquity. It was certainly they who laid the foundations upon which modern dentistry has been built.

Dr. Saba Tabassum

Gratitude to:

Dr. Scott Swank, Curator, The Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry

Edward F. Rossomando, DDS, PhD, MS
University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine

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