Author(s): Ring ME, Hurley N, Ring ME, Hurley N
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Abstract BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW: For centuries, dental patients sat on makeshift contraptions or modified straight-backed chairs, which took a toll on the health of both patient and dentist. In addition, the lack of a suitable drill retarded the development of restorative dentistry, allowing minimum care for only a tiny segment of the population. One farseeing American dentist, James Beall Morrison, changed all that in the 1870s with his innovative, fully adjustable chair, which made sitdown dentistry possible. Moreover, his monumental invention of the foot-powered drill allowed dentists to place restorations that were theretofore impossible. Dentists the world over became able to treat patients more comfortably and satisfactorily, and with less stress to themselves. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: A newly discovered collection of letters in the Smithsonian Institution to Morrison from colleagues in London provides insight into how collaboration between inventor and user helped bring about great changes in the way dentistry is practiced. These letters also shed light on what dentistry was like one and one-quarter centuries ago, how far dentistry has come and what changes may be forthcoming.
This article was published in J Am Dent Assoc
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research