Monday, October 31, 2011

Josiah P. Flagg's The Family Dentist

We're fortunate to have recently acquired a copy of one of the earliest American books on dentistry.

Flagg, Josiah F. The Family Dentist; Containing a Brief Description of the Structure, Formation, Diseases, and Treatment of the Human Teeth. Boston: J. W. Ingraham, 1822.

Worldcat shows 33 other copies, with only 2 other copies on the West Coast (at UCLA and UCSF).

Josiah Foster Flagg (1788-1853) was the son of Josiah Flagg (1763-1816), who is known as "the first native-born American dentist." The younger Flagg studied medicine in Boston under Dr. John Collins Warren. Flagg practiced a variety of professions, including medicine and anatomical illustration, before settling on dentistry. He devoted much of his career to improving dental technology and educating the public about dental care. Flagg and his brother John Foster Brewster Flagg (also a dentist) were both involved in the controversy surrounding the discovery of etherization in the mid-19th century.

Flagg's book is aimed not at dentists or students, but at a popular audience. He describes his purpose as "1. To give, in as few words as possible, a clear description of the structure and formation of the teeth...2. To give a brief sketch of the most common diseases to which the teeth are liable; together with such directions, relative to their treatment and preservation, as shall enable the reader to take the necessary care of his own teeth...3. To guard against the injurious practice of ignorant operators."

The book includes a striking frontispiece, probably created by Flagg himself. The text describes it as "a representation of the bones of the face, in which the first and second sets of teeth are so exposed as to show their relative situation in both jaws, as they are found in a child at about the age of six or seven years."

This title will be cataloged for our History of Dentistry collection, where it will join many other works by Josiah F. Flagg, and one by John Foster Brewster Flagg.


Eddie Storms said...

This book, indeed, revolutionized the dentistry in America through its first thorough analysis of the human teeth. And Dr. Flagg seems to be one, if not the true, forefather of the American dentistry.

DRMuradThakur said...

Thanks Dr. Flagg for this great post.This book might carry a historical revolutionary in the field of dentistry. Modern dental treatment is so much debt to Dr. Flagg.
Family Dentist

childrendentistsca said...
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Unknown said...

Great post. Its very interesting and helpful. Thanks for your nice post.