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J Hist Dent. 2003 Mar;51(1):41-5.

The first dental college: emergence of dentistry as an autonomous profession.

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Baltimore City Health Department, USA.


Old as the ills of mankind, dentistry has been practiced as a specialty of surgery by physicians, surgeons, and artisans, at various times with titles such as barber surgeon, toothdrawer, operator for the teeth, and surgeon dentist. There being universal need for dental services, and lacking enforceable standards of practice and qualification, the profession was invaded by dubiously prepared pretenders at practice. The unconscionable consequence remained largely unremedied until realization of a philosophically sound basis of professional literature, organization, and education incident to the institution of the first dental college and the American system of dental education that elevated dentistry to the status of a recognized autonomous profession.

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