Father of Dentistry: G.V. Black

Apr 1 09:15 2011 Andrew Stratton Print This Article

The Father of American Dentistry is a man by the name of G.V. Black. Some of his contributions are still being used in the field today.

Most dentists and associated historians view G.V. Black as the father of modern dentistry in America. Understanding his approach to the field and the changes he brought to dental health will give you a better appreciation for the modern dentist and the role he plays in your overall health.

Born in 1836,Guest Posting G.V. Black decided to study medicine as an older teenager underneath Dr. Thomas G. Black, his brother. He began studying the dental field specifically under another doctor, Dr. J.C. Speer. Through the things he learned from Dr. Speer, G.V. Black realized that the dental field was highly under studied. After he served in the Civil War, he moved to Jacksonville, Illinois, and began further study into the field.

Mr. Black began his own private dental practice in Jacksonville. He quickly became well known for his excellent care for patients' teeth. Over time, his fame grew, and he was eventually accepted as a Professor of Oral Pathology at the Missouri Dental College. This is where much of his research occurred, and he presented over 100 papers on various aspects of the practice. He also was given the DDS degree by the Missouri Dental College, allowing him to finally be called "Doctor." 

Of his numerous contributions, some of his most famous were inventions. He invented a dental drill powered by a foot pedal that allowed dental practitioners more ease of use when treating cavities. He also set forth standards for tooth preparation to teach dental practitioners how to prepare a tooth to be filled. Dr. Black introduced the use of nitrous oxide to allow dentists to pull teeth without causing extreme pain for patients. He created an excellent composition for dental amalgams, the primary material used in fillings. He also discovered the cause of dental fluorosis.

Eventually, all of this work drew more attention from prestigious universities, and he was accepted as a Professor of Pathology in the Chicago College of Dental Surgery, which later became Loyola University School of Dentistry. He finally received his MD at the Chicago Medical School, and in 1891 became the Dean of Northwestern University Dental School.

One of his most important contributions to the dental field is Black's Classification of Caries Lesions. This organizational system is used to this day, and since his time only one further category has been added. This shows his in-depth understanding of the anatomy and health of human teeth. Throughout his career, Dr. Black helped to standardize the field of dental care more than any other man. He wrote many texts, most notably the Operative Density and Dental Pathology texts that are still drawn from today. 

In spite of his contributions to the field of dental work, Mr. Black had little formal education and was primarily self taught. It is because of these contributions that Dr. Black earned the title of "The Father of Modern American Dentistry." On February 25, 1996, he was officially inducted into the International Hall of Fame for the industry at the Pierre Fauchard Academy, an honor held for only the top leaders in the field.

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Andrew Stratton
Andrew Stratton

Black's spirit is still kept alive by modern dentists. When looking for a practiced dentist in Thousand Oaks dentistry options are available to fit what needs you may have. To find one practice in the area, please visit 1000 Newbury Rd., Suite 190, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320 (805) 480-9820.

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