Teeth and Innovation

Dentist’s office for employees, Cheney Brothers, Manchester, 1918. Connecticut Historical Society collections.

Dentist’s office for employees, Cheney Brothers, Manchester, 1918. Connecticut Historical Society collections.

On this day 149 years ago, the American Dental Association established their code of ethics. In Connecticut, compared to Horace Wells’ anesthesia of the 1840s, other innovations may prove lesser known but just as intriguing.

Dentist’s office, Hartford, 1867-1873. Connecticut Historical Society collections.

Dentist’s office, Hartford, 1867-1873. Connecticut Historical Society collections.

A machine apparatus designed to efficiently attach bridges and plate work can be credited to Dr. J. Moore Craigo, a Hartford dentist from the early 1910s. The device – a press with adjustable tools and parts to aid in dental prosthesis- took fifteen years of development and research. Dr. Craigo took out twenty-five patents for his device, fifteen of which were pending by 1929. His invention proved worthy of use in Tokyo University classes, and was demonstrated in 1926 at the International Dental Congress in Philadelphia.

Operating room in Dentist’s Parsons Office, Thomaston, 1900-1905. Connecticut Historical Society collections.

Operating room in Dentist’s Parsons Office, Thomaston, 1900-1905. Connecticut Historical Society collections.

Ironically, in 1959, Connecticut dentists were celebrated at the American Dental Association’s 100th anniversary, which included tributes to Drs. Horace H. Hayden and Alfred C. Fones. Hayden (of Windsor) served as the co-founder of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1840, at which time he also founded the American Society of Dental Surgeons. Dr. Hayden appeared to be a man of many trades, having worked as a dentist, scientist and physician. Dr. Albert C. Fones is the namesake of the Fones School of Dental Hygiene at the University of Bridgeport. Fones welcomed the concept of training women for dental prophylaxis, and was instrumental in starting dental clinics in the schools of Bridgeport in 1913, making the city the first school dental clinics in the world.

Who would have thought that the world of dentistry could be so compelling? For more materials on dentistry, please feel free to consult our online catalogs: eMuseum, HistoryCat, and Connecticut History Online.

Sierra Dixon is a Research & Collections Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society

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