8 Famous Facts About the Most Successful Dentists in History

Famous Dentists Throughout History 

Have you ever considered that you could become a famous dentist one day? Numerous dentists just like you have made their marks throughout history. Some of the technology and treatment options we couldn’t operate without today wouldn’t exist without these past dentists’ contributions. They took dentistry to new heights and cemented their places as dental celebrities. 

Some of these famous dentists’ names may surprise you, as they are better known for other contributions. 

1. Pierre Fauchard 

Pierre Fauchard was a French surgeon considered to be the father of modern dentistry. He was one of the first physicians to share his knowledge rather than guard it. Fauchard helped dentistry become a profession independent of medicine and coined the term “surgeon dentist.”  

Fauchard published a book in 1728 called “Le Chirurgien Dentiste,” or “The Surgeon Dentist.” It was the first of its kind and contained the following topics: 

  • Oral anatomy
  • Signs and symptoms of oral health conditions
  • Restorative methods 
  • Orthodontics 
  • Periodontal disease
  • Tooth replacement 
  • Tooth transplantation 

Fauchard described symptoms of 103 dental conditions and how to treat them and hypothesized that too much sugar caused dental caries. 

2. Paul Revere 

Most Americans hear the name Paul Revere and associate it with the Revolutionary War. So why is he on this list of famous dentists? He was a man of many talents and worked as a silversmith and an amateur dentist. 

Revere was most interested in using his silversmith skills to create artificial teeth and surgical instruments. He is also credited with beginning the field of forensic dentistry when he was first to identify a corpse by looking at its teeth. 

In 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. His body was buried in a mass grave and exhumed years later. The bodies were unrecognizable, so Revere studied their skulls. He identified Dr. Warren’s body based on a two-unit bridge he made.    

3. Horace Wells 

Horace Wells completed his dental training in Boston. His reputation grew, and he became a well-respected member of the dental community. He is credited with discovering inhalation anesthesia (nitrous oxide) in 1844. His discovery changed the way dentistry was practiced. 

Before nitrous oxide, a dentist could not properly dose a patient using oral drugs, resulting in either undermedication or overmedication. Any procedure that took longer than 20 minutes increased the risk of the patient dying from exhaustion or shock. 

Delivering nitrous oxide to a patient created an option for pain-free dentistry.         

4. John Nutting Farrar

John Nutting Farrar was an American dentist who studied at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He achieved many successes throughout his career, including teaching at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery for over 20 years. But the primary reason he is on this list of famous dentists is his contribution to the world of American orthodontics. 

Farrar is considered to be the father of orthodontics and wanted it to be a profession separate from dentistry. He studied tooth movement and eventually published “Dental Cosmos” in 1876. He was among the first to theorize that teeth would move with applied pressure. His book contained his theories and sketches about tooth movement.  

5. George Green   

George Green was an American dentist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He designed the first electric dental drill, receiving a patent on January 26, 1875. His invention had an electromagnetic motor designed to remove decay.

6. Lucy Hobbs Taylor

Lucy Hobbs Taylor was the first woman to graduate from a dental school in the United States. She earned her degree from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in 1866 when dentistry was still considered to be a man’s profession. 

After being denied entry to dental school twice because of her gender, she opened her own dental practice after learning the profession from a professor who had agreed to tutor her. In 1865, the Ohio College of Dentistry began admitting women, and Lucy enrolled, and became the first woman to graduate from dental college in 1866.

7. Carrie Gertrude Locke 

Dr. Carrie Locke was born in 1869 and graduated from Boston Dental College in 1895. She was the first female to work in American orthodontics. 

Dr. Locke helped found the American Society of Orthodontists, which eventually became the American Association of Orthodontists. She pioneered orthodontics and fought for women’s rights and equal opportunities in dentistry.     

8. Zia Chishti

Zia Chishti is one of the most famous modern dentists on the list. After undergoing orthodontic treatment in his twenties, he envisioned clear plastic trays rather than brackets and wires. Much of his research took place in his dorm at Stanford, and his vision eventually became a reality.  

Dentists could use computers to create custom plastic retainers to shift their patients’ teeth. Invisalign was born. In 1997 he founded Align Technology, and his invention has changed lives ever since.  

Learn more about orthodontics’ role in modern dentistry. 

Thanks to the contributions of the dentists before us, both general dentistry and orthodontics have come a long way in a relatively short time. You may or may not end up inventing something else that will revolutionize dentistry as we know it, but you can still acquire new skills to grow your practice and deliver the best possible dental care to your patients. For more information about orthodontics and the role it can play in your modern general dental practice, contact the American Orthodontic Society.

To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.

March 1-2, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

1st Session: March 8-10, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

April 12-13, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

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