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History books


These are all available for loan from the BDA library.

More information about borrowing is available on our Loans page.


New to the "Dental schools, association and societies list"

A Century Of Care - A History of The Medical and Dental Defence Union Of Scotland by N Muir and D Bell. The Medical and Dental Defence Union Of Scotland, 2002.


Lists by subject

General history Email a request to borrow a book on general dental history
Military dental history Email a request to borrow a book on military dental history
Dental schools, association and societies Email a request to borrow a book on dental schools, association or societies
Dental biography and autobiography Email a request to borrow a dental biography or autobiography
Dental instruments Email a request to borrow a book on the history of dental instruments


Rare book collection

The BDA library has a large collection of rare books from the 16th to the 20th centuries. A catalogue of the collection as it existed then was produced in 1964 and may be viewed here. Since then the 20th century collection has expanded and book records for these and some of the older rare books exist on our online catalogue along with links to full text versions where available.

Researchers may visit the library with prior permission.


A gem from our rare book collection

Saunders, E : Advice on the care of the teeth (1837) 

Dentist to Queen Victoria and founder member of the British Dental Association, Edwin Saunders published this small book on oral hygiene in 1837, aimed at the middle and upper classes.

In the preface to this edition he remarks on the fact that he has sold 11,000 copies of its forerunner, "Five minutes' advice on the care of the teeth" published with hardly any marketing in 1833. It has received "flattering testimonials to its usefulness...from professional and other persons in the upper and middle ranks of life, the unanimous and unequivocal approbation of the public press..." and led to the production of this newly extended and retitled version.

The engraving above is "designed to exhibit a view of what is a frequent subject of inquiry, -- viz., the manner in which the nerves, the organs of sensation, are distributed to the teeth." 

​This small, pocket-sized work looks at the importance of teeth from an aesthetic, health and physiological point of view.

It covers their preservation, oral diseases, "stoppings" (what we would call fillings or dental restorations), methods of oral hygiene such as tooth powders and toothbrushes, the treatment of children's teeth and dentures.

He was very modern in his opinions about the way to brush the teeth in that instead of recommending the common "side to side" method of the time he believed that the brush should be "passed upwards and downwards,with a slight rotatory motion, so as to embrace the arched form of the enamel."

According to his obituary, Saunders was "a personality of great charm" and laid to rest "amid the heather and the bracken of his beloved Wimbledon Common...". He was influential in the cause of dental reform, the workings of the first dental hospital in Soho Square and in the foundation of the British Dental Association, serving as its president in 1886.

The BDA Library is fortunate to hold an original edition of this and another of his important works The teeth a test of age, considered with reference to the factory children... which was also published in 1837.

If you are a BDA member and  would like to see a list of our books on a particular aspect of dental history please email and we will prepare one for you.

Alternatively if you would like a list of articles published on a particular aspect of dentistry then as a BDA member you can request a free literature search from us.