Friday, 17 March 2017

Edinburgh Dental Hospital and School

This coming Monday 20th March sees the dental industry celebrate World Oral Health Day. In this week’s blog, Alice looks back at the history of the Edinburgh Dental Hospital and School.

Visiting the dentist now may still be a scary prospect for some, but prior to the 1878 Dentists Act it was undoubtedly more terrifying. Dentistry had traditionally been carried out by ‘barber-surgeons’, and generally took the form of ‘drawing’ or removing teeth. As surgeons and physicians moved away from being seen as traders and became recognised as professionals (through the founding of the Royal Colleges, for example), so did dental surgeons. By the late 1870s the profession had begun to organise and regulate itself, and in 1878 the Dental Reform Committee was successful in campaigning for the titles of “dentist” and “dental surgeon” to be restricted to registered practitioners. Furthermore, registration was reserved for those who could show they had practiced dentistry for at least five years.

Given Edinburgh’s established role at the forefront of medical education, it was only a matter of time before a dental school was opened in which to train the dental surgeons of the future, and the Edinburgh Dental Dispensary was an obvious choice. The Dispensary had first opened in January 1860 at 1 Drummond Street, and by 1862 it was “agreed that the success of which had attended the experiment of opening such an institution seemed to warrant an extension to its arrangement and support” and a move was made to new premises in Cockburn Street.

LHB25/1/1 - Minute book of the Edinburgh Dental Dispensary, 14 Jan 1862

Branching further into education, the Dispensary joined forces with the Scottish Dental Education Committee and on 30th October 1878 a Dental Hospital and School was established at 30 Chambers Street (known then as Brown Square). Due to a high demand and increase in student numbers, the School moved briefly to Lauriston Lane in 1889. LilianLindsay (the first qualified female dentist in Britain and first female president of the British Dental Association) described the Lauriston Lane hospital in glowing terms as one of the best in the country: “I entered the school at the end of 1892, and had visited those in Leicester Square and Great Portland Street, London, which were greatly inferior”.

A further influx of students again required the School to find larger premises, and on 13th December 1894 the Lord Provost opened a new School at 31 Chambers Street, next to the original site.
LHB25/5 - Prospecti showing the different locations of the School

The Edinburgh Dental Students’ Society dates back to the Lauriston Lane days of the School, and produced a number of different publications. My favourite of these, White Jacket, began in 1933, and provide a colourful insight into student life. As with most student publications, they’re tongue-in-cheek and often fall on the frivolous side, and were sold just to cover the costs of publishing. On occasion, ‘charity numbers’ were produced with slightly more lavish designs, and the proceeds donated to deserving causes:

LHB25/12/31


LHB25/12/36
  
As well as providing its resident artists a chance to shine, White Jacket also provided regular sporting commentary, albeit in its own mischievous way…
 
LHB25/12/26 - This recurring joke appears in at least 4 issues that I've found....
…and the adverts for dental equipment, clothing and other items (such as sporting attire) really stand out as being both beautifully composed and rather of their time:
 
LHB25/12/36
 
Today’s advice for World Oral Health Day couldn’t be more different – tobacco is definitely a no-no! Check out the FDI World Dental Federation’s website for more advice and guidance on how to Live Mouth Smart: http://worldoralhealthday.com/


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