How It Evolved

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November - December 2022

How It Evolved, Dentistry's pursuit of excellence

by Richard A. Glenner, DDS
Published in 2002
Revised Edition, softbound, includes CD-ROM
8.5" x 11" format, illustrated


When I first opened my office, I began to wonder how all of the equipment, instruments and supplies, as well as techniques which I was using developed. I was interested in comparing my 1960 office with an office from 1890, that did not have plumbing and electricity. I then began to question whether I could be as effective a dentist without all of this? Simply put, if a disaster struck, which obliterated our access to modern technology, could we effectively serve our patients? It is this hypothetical thought that caused me to investigate the past... to go back to when there was limited knowledge, but great ingenuity and adaptability demonstrated by the pioneers of dentistry. I wanted to learn about the “simpler days” of dentistry, to learn how the items in my office came about... to find out how they evolved.

After many years as both a practicing dentist and a dental historian, it is my opinion that unless a profession knows its beginnings and its struggles to grow intellectually, it will falter. It will also be in danger of “reinventing the wheel” at regular and irregular intervals. We should remember that in order to know where you are going, you have to know where you have been. This book is designed to point out some of the beginnings and struggles. Studying the past, will give us a sense of pride in our profession and if necessary can help us with our work, when some aspects of modern dentistry are not available.

This is the companion volume to my previously published book, THE DENTAL OFFICE. My sincere thanks to Dr. Frank J. Orland for the suggestion of the title and to others of my friends and colleagues for their help and encouragement. I specifically want to thank HanneloreT. Loevy, DDS, PhD, and Aletha A. Kowitz, MA.

Richard A. Glenner, DDS
Chicago, Illinois


5 - The Modern Reclining Dental Chair
13 - Sit-down Dentistry
15 - Landmark Dental Cabinets
27 - Sterility in Dentistry
31 - Dental Offices Designed for Pediatric Dentistry
31 - The Dental Mirror
43 - The Excavator
51 - The Plugger
55 - The Scaler
59 - Hand Cutting Instruments
63 - The File
69 - The Broach
73 - The Cotton Pliers
75 - The Dental Bur
77 - The Mallet
81 - The Explorer
83 - Plastic Instruments
85 - Gold Fillings
87 - The Rubber Dam
89 - The Mixing and Placement of Amalgam
91 - Dental Cements and Tooth Colored Filling Materials
96 - Traveling Dentists
99 - The Dental Office At The Turn Of The Century
103 - Dental Impressions
107 - Modernization Of The Dental Office
109 - The Dentist In A Fixed Location
111 - Progress in Dental Education in the 19th Century
115 - The 19th Century Dentists Laboratory
119 - The Cost of Equipping a Dental Office
121 - The General Dentist - Early 1960s
125 - Early Dental Instruments Which Are Still in Use Today
127 - Connections - Dentistry and Medicine
129 - The Dentist’s Image in Films
133 - Changes
135 - Looking To The Future
137 - Further Reading

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P.O. Box 3718
Mesquite, NV 89024-3718

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