How old is Toothache? A display on the “History of Dentistry” in the Medical Library

Between April and summer 2016 we are running a display of Library materials relating to the History of Dentistry, and invite you to come and have a look – it is located in the foyer of the Medical Library and gives a small taste of the Medical History Collections in the Library archives.

The University Library has a treasure trove of historical material, sometimes tucked away in the Library Special Collections archives, or the Research Reserve – a warehouse full of older material located on the outskirts of Bristol.  Some careful searching of Library Search and the Special Collections Online Catalogue has revealed some fascinating items relating to Dentistry.

A taster and the references are given here…


[1] “A practical guide to operations on the teeth” by James Snell.  Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Society. 1831.

[2] “Dental Surgery” by J.L. Dudley Buxton. Edinburgh: E. & S. Livingstone,1927

[3] “Dentistry: an illustrated history” by Malvin E. Ring.  New York.  Abrams. 1985.

[4] “The University of Bristol Dental Alumni Association Newsletter”. [The Medical Library holds an archive going back to this first issue in 1991].

[5] “The University of Bristol Dental School and Hospital” by Charles J.G. Saunders.  Bristol: Board of Governors of the United Bristol Hospitals in association with the University of Bristol, 1964.

[6] “Catalogue”.  The Dental Manufacturing Co. Ltd.  London 1899.

[7] “A short history of dentistry” by Maurice Smith.  London, Wingate 1958.


Other references on display

A history of the University of Bristol Dental School and its site” by Chris D. Stephens.  Bristol: Provenance, University of Bristol Dental Alumni Association. 2012.

The advance of the dental profession: a centenary history 1880-1980”.  London: British Dental Association. 1979.

Principles of Dental Surgery” by Leonard Koeckel. Baltimore. American Society of Dental Surgeons.  1842.

The Western counties branch of the British Dental Association” by Alexander R. Woods.  Bristol.  John Wright and Sons Ltd. 1958.

Amalgamated dental products made in England” by the Amalgamated Dental Trade Distributors Ltd.  London 1968.

Full details and location information for each reference can be found via Library Search or the Special Collections Online Catalogue.   Enquiries: Emma Place, Subject Librarian for Dentistry.

4 thoughts on “How old is Toothache? A display on the “History of Dentistry” in the Medical Library”

  1. I hope I get to go see this. I have gone through the pictures you have posted and it does look like an interesting display. If there is anything that will make me appreciate my dentist more it is probably seeing how dentists worked a hundred years ago.

  2. I am very interested in the history of dentistry and so I hope that this is a display that I can see at some point. I have gone through the pictures that you have posted and I think that the methods that were used for toothaches in the past were very interesting. However, what time frame in history does this display focus on? I am just curious to know if it has any focus on ancient dentistry.

  3. It’s great to hear that you have found the display of interest. In terms of time-frames, most of the items relate to nineteenth and twentieth centuries, though the following book does cover older periods, and has some great illustrations – it can be bought quite cheaply online, or you could try borrowing it through a local library: “Dentistry: an illustrated history” by Malvin E. Ring. New York. Abrams. 1985.


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