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Top 10: Most Historically Significant Dentists

Pierre Fauchard
Dentists have conquered some significant milestones - both within the dental discipline and on a greater global scale. Read on to see which dentists and their accomplishments made our cut on our list of the most historically significant dentists.

Top 10 Most Famous, Important, or Significant Dentists in History

1. Pierre Fauchard
Born in 1678, Pierre Fauchard is easily the most important modern dentist in history. This French physician is known as the "father of modern dentistry." In 1728, he wrote the influential The Surgeon Dentist in which he covered dental anatomy, pathology, operative dentistry, and even topics in periodontics and orthodontics. This was the first comprehensive scientific description of dentistry. Maintaining his legacy today, the Pierre Fauchard Academy is an international honor dental organization and is known widely for its leadership within dental circles worldwide.

2. Greene Vardiman Black
More often known as G.V. Black, this dentist (born in 1836) is known as the "father of operative dentistry." He also organized Black's Classification of Carious Lesions which is still used by dentists today (with the exception of one more Class added in more recent times: the Class VI). Known for his principles of tooth preparation, he coined the phrase "extension for prevention" which still carries weight today in the minds of general dentists. G.V. Black also perfected dental amalgam and investigated fluorosis.

The Black's Classification of Carious Lesions

3. Chapin Aaron Harris
This American dentist (born in 1806) aided in founding the world's first dental school in Baltimore, Maryland. Considered the "father of American dental science," Chapin Harris is essentially the founder of dental literature in the US.

4. John Henry "Doc" Holliday
Doc Holliday is better known as a gambler and gunfighter but was also a dentist. Born in 1851, Doc Holliday was an Old West gunslinger that history will remember for the ages. His involvement in the O.K. Corral Gunfight in 1881 is probably his most defining moment. He had obtained his D.D.S. from Philadelphia in 1872.

5. Edward Hartley Angle
Born in 1855, this American dentist is known as the "father of modern orthodontics." Edward dedicated his life to standardizing, teaching, and practicing orthodontics. Known for his Angles Classification which is still used widely today by both general dentists and orthodontists, he also coined the term 'malocclusion.' Angle went on to invent many appliances for orthodontic treatment and devised numerous surgical techniques.

6. William Thomas Green Morton
Born in 1819, Morton was an American dentist that first demonstrated the use of ether as a general anesthetic in conjunction with surgery in 1846. Thus, he is sometimes referred to as the "discoverer of anesthesia." After Morton conducted his first 'painless' tooth extraction using ether, another demonstration was arranged in a theater at Massachusetts General Hospital, which is now known as the famed 'Ether Dome.'

7. Horace Wells
Born in 1815, this American dentist is also famous in the field of anesthesia as well, and actually associated with Morton for a time. Unlike Morton, Wells was not famous for ether, but rather for his use of Nitrous Oxide. Wells also attempted to demonstrate his findings at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1845, but unfortunately administered Nitrous Oxide to his patient improperly and his attempted procedure failed. It took him another try later to prove that his findings were in fact true and to obtain honor from both the American Dental Association and the American Medical Association as the "discoverer of modern anesthesia."

8. Horace Henry Hayden
Yet another American dentist hits the list as a significant dentist. Hayden, born in 1769, is the architect of the American system of dental education and an organizer of professional dentistry. Hayden helped to establish the American Journal of Dental Science (the world's first dental journal). He started educating students about dentistry in 1819 when he delivered his first lectures to medical students at the University of Maryland.

9. Charles Stent
An English dentist, born in 1807, Stent actually perfected the dental impression material used for denture making during his time. Later, in 1916, a Dutch plastic surgeon used this material to support facial tissues as a form of facial reconstruction, and thus coining the term 'stents.' Today, although stents are made of newer materials, the term 'stent' is still used to describe materials used to hold open bodily structures such as cardiac vessels during angioplasties.

10*. Per-Ingvar Brånemark (Honorary Dentist)
The 10th spot on our list is reserved for Brånemark who is not actually a dentist, but rather a Swedish orthopedic surgeon. He certainly could be considered an honorary dentist though as he is considered to be the "father of modern dental implantology." Born in 1929, Brånemark studied osseointegration (the fusion of bone to foreign material) and came up with implant methods. Today, the Brånemark System of dental implants is still used and is currently available from a private dental manufacturer.

Thanks for reviewing this list of the Top 10 Most Historically Significant Dentists. Perhaps one of our readers will be inspired and motivated to contribute to our great profession and will make this list in the years to come!

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