Editorial: Ice Cubes to Eskimos

by Catherine Wilson

Six years after celebrating the 100th anniversary of Oral Health’s launch, another reason to celebrate appeared on the horizon…2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday. As the rest of the world seems to be crumbling around us, what better place on earth to celebrate? Relative peace, calm, tranquility and an environment that at least seems (as I write this) to embrace most races, creeds,  religions and practices. As some other countries, at least as civilized as ours, convulse with violence, suspicion and the threat of retribution and retaliation, we modestly navel-gaze and admit, not boast, that perhaps the world could use a little more Canada.

In a humble, almost modest number of pages in this July issue, we take a look at just a few of the landmarks in Canada’s existence as well as a recounting of some of the special milestones in Canada’s contribution to the dental world.

Without stealing too much of the thunder of our special ‘timeline’ pages, ponder these jewels of history:

  • 1497 John Cabot reaches Newfoundland 1497 John Cabot reaches Newfoundland (or Cape Breton);
  • 1812–14 War of 1812: U.S. invades Canada;
  • 1815 Mr L.S. Parmly, who practised in Montréal in 1815, published the first Canadian book on dentistry, The Summum Bonum, and called himself a dentist and “medical electrician;
  • 1840 The world’s first national dental organization, The American Society of Dental Surgeons, is founded;
  • 1867 Confederation (first four provinces:Québec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick);
  • 1867 The Harvard University Dental School, the first university-affiliated dental institution, is founded. The school calls its degree the Dentariae Medicinae Doctorae (DMD), creating a continuing semantic controversy (DDS vs. DMD);
  • 1913 Alfred C. Fones opens the Fones Clinic For Dental Hygienists in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the world’s first oral hygiene school. Dr. Fones, believed to be the first to use the term “dental hygienist,” is known as the Father of Dental Hygiene;
  • 1916 Women win the vote in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta;
  • 1960 Québec’s Quiet Revolution begins; Native Canadians given the vote;
  • 1945 The water fluoridation era begins when Newburgh, New York, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, add sodium fluoride to their public water systems;
  • 1957 John Borden introduces a high-speed air-driven contra-angle handpiece. The Airotor reaches speeds up to 300,000 rotations per minute and launches the era of high-speed dentistry;
  • 1964 Several societies and graduate programs related to specializations were established; after many controversial years the Royal College of Dentists of Canada was created in 1964 by federal statute to promote high standards of specialization, to determine qualifications, to establish training programs in Canadian dental schools, and to provide the recognition and designation of dentists who possessed special qualifications.

In many countries dental care falls under government health-care programs, but in Canada, only selected groups have benefited, and then, only in some provinces.We hope you’ll enjoy our walk down memory lane both in terms of Canada’s place in dental history and dentistry’s place in Canada’s history. OH