The museum holds copies of the Dentists Register. This yearly volume was started in 1879 and continues today. It records the name, address and qualification of every practitioner. Today the register is compiled by the General Dental Council.
The register was started in 1879 as a result of the first Dentists Act of 1878. This was the first legislation which aimed to restrict dental treatment and advice to be given only by qualified dentists. The LDS (Licence in Dental Surgery) was the first qualification given in 1860 by the Royal College of Surgeons. Prior to this most practitioners learnt their skills through apprenticeship. Practitioners who could prove they had already been involved prior to 1879 in the bona fide practise of dentistry alone or in conjunction with medicine, surgery or pharmacy, were included on the register. Only dentists listed on the dentists register could use the title of ‘dentist’ or ‘dental surgeon’.
The Dentists Act of 1921
Between 1878 and 1921 the number of unregistered practitioners was larger than the numbers of registered dentists. This was mainly due to a loophole in the law which enabled practitioners to set up dental rooms in order to avoid the restricted titles of ‘dentist’ and ‘dental surgeon’. This does not imply, however, that all unregistered practitioners were charlatans. Many skilled practitioners did not see the need to register. The Dentists Act of 1921 finally tightened this loophole so that only qualified dentists could practise dentistry.
What can you tell me about my ancestor?
If your relative appears on the Dentists Register we will be able to tell you the following information:
first and last date of registration
their qualification and from which institution it was obtained
all registered addresses and the dates they changed.
Prior to 1879 there are very few records available as apprenticeship records are often scattered and held by local history libraries or other repositories.
We will also search for obituaries or other articles in the dental press. All research is carried out by our team of volunteers and we request a small donation to support the work of the museum. If you would like us to research a dentist please email the museum providing their full name, birth and death dates (if known, if not the rough dates they lived or worked) and the area of the country you think they lived or worked in.