History's Most Famous Dentists

HealthcareFebruary 23, 2014

Any list of famous dentists includes the "father of modern dentistry", Pierre Fauchard, who is responsible for the first scientific description of dentistry. Beyond touching on orthodontics and periodontics, specialties that were to emerge at a much later time, he detailed the structure of the teeth and jaw and their diseases and flaws, as well as methods on how to treat them.

Greene Vardiman Black pioneered operative dentistry. Black devised a classification method for tooth decay known as "Black's Classification of Carious Lesions," which is still in use today. He also perfected the filling of cavities with composite amalgams and studied how fluoride helps to protect the teeth.

Three men share the title of "father of orthodontics." Edward Hartwell Angle developed a classification system, invented numerous dental appliances and founded what later would become the American Association of Orthodontists. Norman Kingsley wrote The Treatise on Oral Deformities and understood orthodontics to be based on the relationship between biology and mechanics. J. N. Farrar wrote A Treatise on the Irregularities of the Teeth and Their Corrections and believed that teeth could be moved within certain time intervals by means of mild force.

The pain from dental work was so excruciating that people often avoided having work done on their teeth at all costs. Horace Wells and William Thomas Green Morton are both considered the founding fathers of general anesthesia. Wells, who worked with ether, conducted his first anesthetized surgery in 1846. Around the same time, Morton discovered the anesthetic benefit of nitrous oxide.

Other dentists famous for their clinical contributions include George Green, who patented the first electric dental drill, and Waldo Hauchett, who patented the dental chair. Charles Cassidy Bass is recognized as the first major proponent of preventive dentistry. In 1812, Marcus Bull made known the use of gold leaf, while Charles Land introduced the porcelain crown in 1903. In 1967, Michael Buonocore's modern composite bonding material came into use, and Zia Chishti first released Invisalign braces in 2000.

Some other famous dentists include Robert Tanner Freeman, the first African American dentist, and Emiline Roberts, the nation's first female dentist. John Baker is considered the first dentist in America.

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