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July-August 2018

Argentinean Dentistry

by Orestes Walter Siutti, CD - The history of the legal practice of dentistry in the Rio de la Plata region is given. The first diplomas were given in 1891 by the Medical Tribunal, before the creation of the dental school in Buenos Aires. The inauguration of teaching courses and the different teaching plans, as well as the biography of the teachers who initiated the teaching in Argentina are presented as are the creation of the School of Dentistry and the appearance of the three schools of the College of Medical Sciences in the monumental new building. Portraits of the teachers Etcheparborda, Pereira, Erausquin and Guardo, crafters of the old school are presented, together with those of the administrators of the university complex and the College, Profs. Dr. Jose Arce and Ricardo C. Guardo...


Origins of Argentinean Dentistry

The history of the legal practice of dentistry in the Rio de la Plata region is given. The first diplomas were given in 1891 by the Medical Tribunal, before the creation of the dental school in Buenos Aires. The inauguration of teaching courses and the different teaching plans, as well as the biography of the teachers who initiated the teaching in Argentina are presented as are the creation of the School of Dentistry and the appearance of the three schools of the College of Medical Sciences in the monumental new building. Portraits of the teachers Etcheparborda, Pereira, Erausquin and Guardo, crafters of the old school are presented, together with those of the administrators of the university complex and the College, Profs. Dr. Jose Arce and Ricardo C. Guardo.

From Healers to Protomedicato

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There was a long period when healers, barbers, phlebotomists and others were active. They usually had a box in which they carried their instruments and other treatment elements: keys and pliers for dental extraction, scalers, scalpels, etc. At the museum of the Dental School of Buenos Aires there is a box that at one time belonged to a bleeder who was active during the government of Juan Manuel de Rosas (about 1845).

The charlatans on the other hand, belonged to another group. Their objective was to swindle unaware sufferers using supposedly magic formulas and magic remedies. Well known is the situation of how these enterprising worshippers of deceit and simulation lived at the Pont Neuf of Paris, an area selected for their careers because it was an area of major traffic.

We arrive therefore at the time when the activities of those individuals who dedicated themselves to care of the health of others became more oriented and orderly. So, the Protomedicato de Buenos Aires was instituted according the royal orders of Aranjuez of May 2,1778. The King was Charles 111. Implementation took place on August 17,1780.

Proto is a prefix that signifies priority or superiority. The Protomedicato was a tribunal made up of protomedicos and examiners to whom the candidates who wanted to practice medicine demonstrated their proficiency and aptitude. The tribunal gave licenses to those professionals who were qualified to practice the arts of healing. The tribunal consisted of physicians who were designated by the King, or in this case, his designate, the viceroy.

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The protomedicos had to adjust themselves to the aspects of the law sanctioned by King Felipe Il of Madrid of January 11, 1570. Dr. Miguel Gorman was named the first Protomedico in Buenos Aires, and his nomination was communicated to the central government by Viceroy Vertiz in 1779. Gorman had studied in Paris and Reims and had validated his titles in Madrid. He was head of the Protomedicato for 36 years and during this time he organized the medical corps not only in important centers, but also in small towns. He used much energy against charlatans and healers, imposing penalties such as fines and jail on the "intruders damaging the health of our people" as he described them.

It is true, that in spite of these efforts, that it was not possible to get rid of this real plague but an appreciable reduction of abuse was obtained. The action of Gorman was effective in the prevention of epidemics, in prophylaxis, hygiene and also in teaching since by a royal decree of July 10, 1798 the Protomedicato was authorized to teach medicine and surgery. The bust of Dr. Gorman, together with that of Fabre y Argerich is located in the Dr. Bernardo Houssay square in Buenos Aires. Dr. Houssay was an Argentinean scientist, who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

We should also mention Viceroy Juan Jose de Vertiz y Salcedo, who governed Buenos Aires from 1778 until 1784. He was born in Mexico and had been destined to a military career in Spain. In 1769 he moved to Rio de la Plata as subinspector of troops. The following year he was named Governor of Buenos Aires, a position he kept until 1777. In 1778 he was designated viceroy following Don Pedro de Cevallos. During his government he removed the Portuguese from Jacuy; founded the organization of the Misiones and founded the Royal College of San Carlos and the Casa de Ninos Expositos (orphanage).

Legal Exercise and the University

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A fundamental step took place on August 9,1821, when the decree founding the University of Buenos Aires was issued by the governor and captain general of the Province of Buenos Aires, Don Martin Rodriguez, and the secretary of state, Don Bernardino Rivadavia.

In 1822 the Protomedicato was abolished and replaced by the Medical Tribunal. On December 8, 1837 Tomas Coquet received his dental diploma and on September 10, 1844, Don Juan Manuel de Rosas Coquet was named professor for dentists by decision of the governor of Buenos Aires.

Three years later, in 1847 Don Juan Etchepareborda received the title of dentist and was named dental examiner (examinador dentists). Juan Etchepareborda was French by birth. He came to Argentina at the age of 20 and founded a library which contained physics and chemical and surgical instruments. He obtained his diploma of dentistry on June 9, 1847 and was named examiner for practical teaching in 1853.

In September of that year, he offered to colleagues of the Faculty of Medicine and some journalists the first fruits of his work in Paris, that is the illumination of the Place de la Concorde, with electrical lights. In his office he directed experiments that merited favorable comments by the press. During the festivities of May 25, 1854 Etchepareborda illuminated the then Plaza de la Victoria (today Plaza de Mayo) with two similar apparatus (voltaic arch) so that the journalists of the time wrote "the Plaza was as light as during the day, making it possible to read pencil marks and photograph this lovely light." Summarizing, we can say that from 1780 until 1821, the Protomedicato was only concerned with questions of health; the Protomedicato was abolished in 1822 with the creation of the Medical Tribunal which operated until 1891 when the department of dentistry was created.

Dr. Juan Etchepareborda was examiner of operative dentistry from 1853 to 1883, when his son Nicasio was named to these functions. Nicasio had arrived from Paris where he had received the title of dentist from the Free Dental School of that city in 1882.

The School of Dentistry

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In 1891 a special and definitive event for dental education took place in Argentina. The new dean of medicine, Dr. Mauricio Gonzalez Catan, who took over due to the death of Dr. Cleto Aguirre, suggested the development of a dental school. In the transactions of the medical school of 1889, he manifested the urgency and need of the founding "because it is time that Argentine dentists, can be graduated well instructed and competent, so that there is no need to obtain dentists from abroad." In this manner on December 23, 1891, a section of the higher directive council of the Medical Science Faculty which was reflected in the minutes 457 states:

"Notice from the Rectory creating new catedras in the Medical Science Faculty: Experimental Physiology, Theoretical Physics, Natural History and Chemistry applied to Medicine; Obstetrics for Midwives, and theoretic-practical Dentistry."

The situation after 1890 could, due to economic reasons delay the founding of the school; however, the activities of Dr. Gonzalez Catan accelerated the events almost to completion. At the end of 1891 the rectory passed the law that created the Dental School.

In this regard, Dr. Etchepareborda stated, "The initiative of the creation of the Cathedra of Dentistry is entirely due to Dr. Mauricio Gonzalez Catan. Thanks to his many ministrations it was founded in the year 1892 (the date of initiation of courses).

Etchepareborda had been suggested as a professor without the formation of a group of three. However, on February 12,1892 the group of three was established by laws was formed:

First: Nicasio Etchepareborda
Second: Juan Etchepareborda
Third: David Webster

Nicasio Etchepareborda was born in Buenos Aires on October 11, 1857. Graduated Physician, from the college of Medicine of Buenos Aires in 1881. Dentist from the dental school of Paris on November 1, 1882. (At that school he received a vermeil medal which that institution gave to the better students. Both the diploma and the medal were donated to our museum by his grandchildren.) In 1883 he was a member of the Medical Tribunal and designated substitute examiner; in 1892 head of department of dentistry; council of the school of medicine in 1908.

He was the author of several papers, some written in French. These, besides the booklet of his genealogy, with hand written annotations, is also being kept in the museum of the College of Dentistry of Buenos Aires. In 1921 he retired from the department after an uninterrupted career of 30 years. He was the first chairman of dentistry at the National Academy of Medicine. On February 15, 1935 he died in Buenos Aires, being remembered as one of the pioneers of teaching of dentistry of our fatherland, respected and admired by the whole profession.

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On March 23, the inaugural class of five students of the School of Dentistry of Buenos Aires registered (three Argentineans, a Dutch and a Portuguese) was given, with the presence of authorities and professionals. On July 13, the first title of dentist was presented to Mr. Juan Bonansea. The classes were given in a room of the department of ophthalmology, made available by the head of department, Dr. Pedro Lagleyze in the old Clinical Hospital.

This hospital had its origins in the Buenos Aires Hospital, inaugurated in 1880, and which later took the name of Clinics. In 1883 while Dr. Eduardo Wilde was minister of public instruction during the first presidency of General Julio A. Roca, it was decided that the college of medical sciences would be part of the Buenos Aires hospital, Dr. Manuel Porcel de Peralta being dean. The establishment was located in the buildings on Cordoba, junin, Paraguay and Andes (today J. E. Uriburu).

Etchepareborda talked about the beginnings: "Until then, the school had a wandering life, having been a guest of the department of ophthalmology of the Clinics Hospital and later of the school of medicine in the school of pharmacy. It was located a little later in the rooms dedicated to the bacteriology laboratory, and at last functioned for two years in the classrooms of legal medicine."

On his part, Dr. Antonio J. Guardo, in a ceremony to honor Dr. Etchepareborda in 1913, the year he took over the department of prothesis, said: "It is enough to remember the small room of the Clinics Hospital humble and small as a Franciscan cell, in which only the scientific enthusiasm which is similar to the zeal of a priest could place a school, that today occupies a special place in the world." In that modest room, the nervous and untiring teaching activity of Dr. Etchepareborda with four or five modest dental chairs, and a few dozen pliers alternating between the students of the first and second year.

Dr. Nicasio Etchepareborda, the only professor, was in charge of the teaching of all the subjects. In 1894 the courses were increased to two years. In 1896, Dr. Leon Pereira named adjunct professor, took over teaching of the first year, with Etchepareborda remaining with the second year students. Describing the personality of Dr. Pereira, Professor Dr. Gustave A. Chiappori said: "major figure, not only because of his undisputable skill, his extensive knowledge and his professional ethics, but he also was a teacher in the highest level of the word, while contributing to the character formation of the students, giving to the whole group a uniformity that did not exclude individual initiatives. Teaching by his own example which is the hardest, but most authentic way of obtaining didactic success." Dr. Leon Pereira was born in 1859 in Arrecifes, Province of Buenos Aires, and died in Buenos Aires in 1926.

In 1908 Dr. Rodolfo Erausquin was named substitute teacher and in 1910 the studies were increased to three years. Erausquin, a great teacher and investigator was born in Spain and was a naturalized Argentinean. He was born in 1881 and died in Temperley, Buenos Aires province in 1945. He was professor of Oral Pathologic Anatomy (the cathedra has his name) and published papers that had great repercussions in and outside his land.

On October 21, 1913, the dentist Antonio Guardo was named professor of prosthesis, this being the first time a dentist became a professor, since in the past the medical degree was needed for this position. Guardo was a teacher of simple and clear words. An undisputed leader who had the fiber of the old caudillos. He was a born politician. If during his time he was criticized and attacked, posterity shows that he was right, that his acts were intended to insure the growth and the well being of the school. As councilman he presented to Prof. Dr. Raul Loustalan, the project of the creation of the School of Dental Science, which did not attain the hope of his authors. He was collaborator of Prof. Dr. Jose Arce, in the administration and construction of the building of the School of Medical Sciences. Guardo was born in 1875 and died in Buenos Aires in 1944.

In 1919 a fourth year was added, and the following year, the doctorate in dentistry was created by a motion of the councilor Dr. Ignacio Ymaz, a physician. In 1934 the 5 year plan was approved by motions of the counsellors Drs. Alejando Cabanne and David M. Cohen. In 1937, by initiative of the counsellors Drs. Antonio J. Guardo and Raul Loustalan, the teaching plan was modified with the creation of new departments and independence of those that were shared with medicine.

The New School

So we arrive at May 10, 1939, the first day of construction of the new monumental medical science school, slated to hold the medical, dental and pharmacy schools. This building which also contains the teaching hospital, the institutes of the specialties and the square that was used by the old Clinics Hospital, (today Plaza Bernard Houssay) was designed in 1906 by Dr. Eliseo Canton. Many years later, it was added to and improved by Professor Dr. Jose Arce, one of the biggest figures of the Argentinean university.

Dr. Arce had included in the law 11.333 of the national budget an article, the sixth, that ordered the construction of this large complex.

Dr. Jose Arce was born in Loberia province of Buenos Aires, in 1881. He graduated medicine at the age of 21. He was a gold medalist of his class and his doctoral thesis received the college prize. He was professor and head of surgical clinic in 1918 and thoracic surgery in 1941. He was university president in 1922, dean of his school in 1935 and director of the Institute of Surgery Clinic. At retirement from teaching he was designated honorary professor. He was ambassador in China and at the United Nations and presided at the Security Council of the UN. He was also national representative, participating as one of the members of the younger chamber. When he died in 1968 his belongings were transferred to the Roca Museum, Institute of Historical Investigations. Professor Arce, an outstanding builder, will be remembered as one of the most outstanding administrators of the progress of the institutions of our land.

In 1946, while national representative and president of the chamber, Prof. Dr. Ricardo Cesar Guardo introduced a law for creation of the School of Dentistry in Buenos Aires which was approved by both houses and sanctioned by the Executive Power on November 20, 1946 as law 12.846.

Ricardo Guardo was professor of pathology and oral dental clinics at the school of dentistry. He had several important public positions. Besides being a legislator he was the Argentinean ambassador at the Vatican, and national defense. He was born in 1908 and died in Buenos Aires in 1984.

References

  1. Bagur, Diego B. Historia de la Odontologia Argentina. Thesis, 1943.
  2. Etchepareborda, Nicasio. Legajo N. 10.693. Archives ofthe Faculty of Dentistry of Buenos Aires (FOBA).
  3. Siutti, Orestes W Prof. Nicasio Etchepareborda. En el 50 aniversario de su muerte. Rev de la FOBA, 1985, 51: 22 Oct).
  4. Pereira, Leon. Legajo N. 10.690. Archives of the FOBA. Erausquin, RodolfoLegajo N. 248, Archives of the FOBA. Siutti, Orestes W Dr. Rodolfo Erausquin. Rev de la FOBA, 1982, 3: 56 (jun).
  5. Pereira, Leon. Legajo N. 10.690. Archives of the FOBA. Erausquin, RodolfoLegajo N. 248, Archives of the FOBA. Siutti, Orestes W Dr. Rodolfo Erausquin. Rev de la FOBA, 1982, 3: 56 (jun).
  6. Pereira, Leon. Legajo N. 10.690. Archives of the FOBA. Erausquin, RodolfoLegajo N. 248, Archives of the FOBA. Siutti, Orestes W Dr. Rodolfo Erausquin. Rev de la FOBA, 1982, 3: 56 (jun).
  7. Guardo, Antonio J. Legajo N.1 Archives of the FOBA. Siutti, Orestes W. Los ochenta afaos de la catedra de protesis. Rev del Museo FOBA, 1994, 9: 1 0 Uune).
  8. Guardo, Antonio J. Legajo N.1 Archives of the FOBA. Siutti, Orestes W. Los ochenta afaos de la catedra de protesis. Rev del Museo FOBA, 1994, 9: 1 0 Uune).
  9. El Centenario de la Escuela de Odontologia de Buenos Aires. Rev El Cooperator Dental. 1991, 50: 14 (Sept-Dec)
  10. Siutti, Oreste N. and Bagur, Diego B. Historia de la Facultad de Odontologia de Buenos Aires. Rev del Museo FOBA. 1996,11: 56 (Special issue 22).

DR. SIUTTI is director of the Museum and Center for Historical studies of the Faculty of Dentistry of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Article orginally published in the Journal of the History of Dentistry Vol. 49, No. 2/July 2001, copyright ©2001, all rights reserved

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