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​Dental history

Last updated 27 June 2016 

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Are you doing a talk or research into the history of dentistry? We can help you with a wide variety of resources including books, journals and more held in the library’s collection. Most available to borrow.

For our complete history of dentistry collection please browse the library catalogue or contact us for more information on 020 7563 4545.

To complement the library's loans why not borrow a box of historic artefacts from the BDA Museum.

Forceps through the ages

The French Musée Virtuel de l'Art Dentaire site contains a number of web pages related to dental instruments.

These include a long and well illustrated section on dental forceps.

Saint Apollonia - Croatian iconography

Saint Apollonia in churches of the Poreč and Pula diocese by Goran Knežević takes the reader on a highly illustrated journey through the Istrian region of Croatia to discover the saint in all her forms.

She is portrayed as a wooden statue, in frescos and numerous paintings in churches of the region invariably carrying her pincers and tooth.

Read an article on the subject by the same author.

If you would like to request this book for loan please email us.

Read more and reserve it here

Education through the centuries

The Proceedings of a Symposium held by the Henry Noble History of Dentistry Research Group at Easterbrook  Hall, Crichton Campus, Dumfries in October 2011 have just been published.

The topic covered was, Apprenticeship to life long learning: dental education through the centuries.

View a list of papers included in the book.

If you would like to request this book for loan please email us.

Read more about this book and reserve it here


General overview 


Philias R Garant
The Long Climb: From Barber-Surgeons to Doctors of Dental Surgery
Quintessence Publishing, 2013

If you would like to request this book for loan please email us.


Read more about this book here


This is a very readable clearly set out book which presents an overview of the history of dentistry up to the end of the 19th century. The final chapter does briefly bring dentistry up to date with a short look at how it has developed in the USA in the last 100 years or so.

The author, an American dental educator and scientist looks at the subject less in terms of a timeline and more in terms of the personalities (eg Pierre Fauchard, GV Black, William Morton and the BDA's very own Sir
John Tomes) and controversies (eg gold vs amalgam and mechanical vs
operative) that have pushed forward development.

The only slight drawback to this book is that although profusely illustrated the quality of the images is not the best and none of the sources are credited. 

You may also be interested in:


Christine Hillam (Editor) 
Dental practice in Europe at the end of the 18th century
Rodopi, 2003

If you would like to request this book for loan please email us.

Read a review of this book that appeared in the BDJ



Bringing together resources and information about dental practice in France, the British Isles, the Netherlands, Hungary and Germany, this book provides important insights into the role of European dentistry in the latter part of the 1700s. This is a period when dentistry as a specialty began to emerge and for the first time the research focuses on sources such as newspaper advertisements and commercial directories to place the role of the dental practitioner within a wider social and political context during of an era of great change.

Why not try other books by Christine Hillam:

 For further insights into dental history visit the BDA Dental Museum.