Advertisement for Mr Stanton, surgeon dentist
Medium: Print on paper
Before 1858, there was no dental school in England nor any regulation of the profession, 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 practise under alternative titles such as 'dental specialist', 'dental consultant' or 'dental expert'.
For both reputable dentist and charlatan the main profits came from the sale of false teeth - prominently advertised and illustrated here by the surgeon dentist Mr Stanton. By the end of the 19th century dentures made of vulcanised rubber offered a cheaper alternative to those made of platinum or gold. Vulcanite dentures could be moulded and coloured to match the natural gum and when fitted with porcelain teeth might improve mastication and articulation and restore a natural appearance. Patients might also benefit from the use of nitrous oxide gas as an anaesthetic for extractions.