Life-like figure joins National Museum of Dentistry exhibition

Aug. 13, 2007
New touchscreen computer display explores life and legacy of G.V. Black.

BALTIMORE, Maryland--Meet G.V. Black, the father of American dentistry, in the newly enhanced exhibition G.V. Black: Father of American Dentistry

The exhibit opens Saturday, Sept. 8 at The Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry.

See a life-size figure of Dr. Black in a re-creation of his office, including his dental chair and cabinet, plus interact with a touchscreen computer exploration of his life and profound impact he made on modern dentistry.

The vignette of Black's circa 1870 dental office--featuring his Archer dental chair with swan armrests, a foot-powered dental engine that he invented, and hand instruments designed by Black to place silver amalgam fillings--has been enhanced with a life-like figure of the dentist waiting for his next patient.

Every detail of his appearance has been recreated thanks to historic photos, a bronze bust, and Civil War discharge papers that document his height, eye color, and hair color.

In addition, a new touchscreen computer kiosk allows visitors to flip through a "photo album" of Black's life to learn more about his home and family, scientific breakthroughs that made him legendary in the world of dentistry, and the legacy of his work. Visitors can also use this kiosk to find out more about the historic objects on view.

The preeminent American dentist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, G.V. Black's pioneering research on microscopic tooth anatomy and his knowledge of the structure of the tooth led him to develop theories of cavity preparation that became the standard for tooth restoration for more than 100 years.

Before this time, dentists had only removed the diseased part of the tooth, filling the resulting hole only to find more decay in virtually the same area. Dr. Black advocated "extension for prevention," enlarging the area around the cavity to include additional parts of the tooth that were especially prone to cavities, such as all of the grooves on the biting surface. He also described the best way to prepare the tooth walls of the cavity to hold a silver filling.

Dr. Black also experimented with the formulation of dental silver amalgam filling until he perfected the ingredients needed and their percentages. His formulation remains largely unchanged to this day.

For more information, call (410) 706-0600 or visit National Museum of Dentistry.