Dentistry was a specialty of medicine until the mid 1800s when the first school of dentistry was founded.

Dentists became independent of doctors because the faculties at American medical schools did not accept dentistry as a necessary subsection of medical education and refused to train dentists.

This resulted in a shortage of qualified medical personnel to treat oral disease. Consequently, in 1838 an independent dental school with a formal educational system known as The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery was founded.

The dental school provided medical training to dentists who at the time were mostly skilled tradesman, practicing dentistry using tools to carve and pull teeth.

Separating dentistry from medicine resulted in more dentists being trained as doctors and set the stage for advancement in the field. During the 1800s, dentists were among the first to employ anesthesia. While the tools to remove teeth have remained virtually unchanged from those used by tradesmen of earlier days, the advanced understanding of anatomy and physiology resulted in much improved care.

The dentistry collection at the Edward Hand Medical Heritage Foundations includes items such as toothbrushes dating to the mid 1700s, to instruments dating from the 1800s into mid 1900s.

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