Pulpdent founder Harold Berk remembered

Jan. 19, 2006
Berk's pulp studies at the National Institutes of Health in the 1950s led to techniques for pulp capping.

Harold Berk, DDS, FICD, FACD, ScD, who founded the company now known as Pulpdent Corporation, died recently at the age of 88.

When Berk died on Jan. 9, the dental profession lost one of its great mentors, teachers, innovators and clinicians. Dr. Berk graduated from Northwestern Dental School in 1941 and received the coveted internship in pediatric dentistry at Forsyth Dental Infirmary for Children in Boston. He was Chief of the Clinic from 1944-1946 when he joined the faculty at Tufts Dental School, where he remained until his death.

In 1947 Dr. Berk, together with Ben Rower, founded Rower Dental Manufacturing Company, now known as Pulpdent Corporation and owned and managed by his three sons, Kenneth, Fredrick and Donald.

On Dr. Berk's 88th birthday, his long awaited book, Save That Tooth, was published. The beautifully designed book chronicles his research and his life in dentistry and presents fascinating cases in an informal style that brings his patients, and his philosophy, to life.

He understood that nature has tremendous healing powers and one of the practitioner's responsibilities is to create an environment that is favorable for the natural healing process.

Dr. Berk was a pioneer in the use of calcium hydroxide for vital pulp therapy and root canal therapy. He developed Pulpdent Paste, the first premixed calcium hydroxide methylcellulose pulpal dressing. In the 1940s, he conducted original research and developed techniques for vital calcium hydroxide pulpotomy.

His pulp studies at the National Institutes of Health in the 1950s led to techniques for pulp capping and a life-long friendship with Dr. Harold Stanley, who did the histological sections.

In the 1960s he developed techniques for the use of the Endodontic Pressure Syringe for obturating root canals with sealer by filling the apex first and then backfilling the remaining canal space.

He was a founding member of American Academy of Dentistry for Handicapped Children, now part of the Federation of Special Care Organizations.

Each year the Academy gives the Harold Berk Award for Excellence in the Treatment of Persons with Disabilities to a deserving practitioner at its annual meeting.

Berk closed all his letters with "keep smilin', Harold."