Advertisement for the South Kensington Ladies' Dental Institution 7527
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 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. 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. These would improve mastication and articulation and a patient might even enjoy a more youthful appearance!
At the South Kensington Ladies' Dental Institution patients could also benefit from the use of nitrous oxide gas (or 'laughing gas') as an anaesthetic for extractions, thus rendering once excruciatingly painful operation relatively painless. If a dentist followed the example of H F Partridge at the South Kensington Ladies' Dental Institution in renting spacious comfortable rooms in a smart location and furnishing them expensively, wealthy ladies and gentlemen might be prepared to pay all the more handsomely for their false teeth!