Advertisement for the Holborn Dental Institute
Medium: Print on paper
Before 1858, there was no dental school in England nor any regulation of the profession, thus making it very easy for an untrained person to advertise and operate as a dentist. The Dentists Act of 1878 established a Register of existing practitioners and specified that no-one without dental or medical qualifications could be registered or use the title 'dentist' or 'dental practitioner'. Unregistered persons might still operate under such alternative titles as 'dental specialist', 'dental consultant' or 'dental expert'.
For both reputable dentist and charlatan the main profits came from the sale of false teeth - a service prominently listed in this advertisement of 1886 for the Holborn Dental Institute. By the end of the 19th century, dentures made of vulcanised rubber could be moulded and coloured to match the natural gum and fitted with porcelain teeth. As this advertisement states, these might improve mastication and articulation and restore a natural appearance.
Patients could also benefit from the use of nitrous oxide gas as an anaesthetic for extractions. Perhaps it is not surprising to see that the Holborn Dental Institute, which offers painless treatment and false teeth, was profitable enough to offer greatly reduced charges and free treatment to the poor.