Introduction

Insight: Many dentists played an important role in the history and development of periodontology, and Medicine. Dr Fermin Carranza Jr, the Editor Emeritus of this book takes you on a fascinating journey into the history of periodontics where you will learn about the fundamental discoveries and the people who’s ideas have led to our current understanding about the periodontal diseases and their treatment. Many people in dentistry and medicine may not realize that it was two dentists who forever changed the world of medicine with the discovery of anesthesia thereby permiting surgical intervention inside the body.

The FIRST Periodontist. John Riggs, who practiced in the state of Connecticut, USA was the first, Periodontal “Specialist” in the USA. In the mid 1860’s the most popular treatment of “gum disease” was to surgically remove the gingiva but Dr Riggs was opposed to resecting the gingiva (gingivectomy). He knew that a “clean mouth" helped to prevent periodontal disease but he didn’t know that biofilm was the etiology. In fact it wasn’t for many years that bacteria were considered to be the major constituents of dental plaque. Dr Riggs invented instruments to clean the teeth and they were the forerunners of modern scaling and root planning treatment.

Dentists Discover Anesthesia. The first was the discovery of nitrous oxide for dental anesthesia was by a dentist named Horace Wells (1813-1848) of Hartford, Connecticut in 1845. One year later in 1846, Well’s associate William Morton (1819-1868) of Boston, Massachusetts, discovered the general anesthetic effects of ether and changed the world of medicine forever.

There are so many interesting facts and descriptions inside the history of Periodontology, we are sure you will enjoy reading about them.

John W. Riggs (1811-1885). (From Hoffman-Axthelm W: History of dentistry, Chicago, 1981, Quintessence.)