Episode 52: The Rebuff

Over the past several centuries, the medical field has established a firm graph on the domain of the human body, with one very notable exception — the teeth. In this episode, we’re going to explore this historic split between medicine and dentistry, and the moment in history where the two fields could have been rejoined but were “rebuffed.” Along the way we’ll talk about barbers and enemas, a fun tool called the dental pelican, 19th century professional drama between doctors and dentists, and the sometimes disastrous consequences this can have for our patients. 



  • British Dental Association — Dental Pelicans, retrieved from: https://bda.org/museum/collections/dental-equipment/pelican
  • “Dentistry,” The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science, Medicine, and Technology
  • Gevitz N, Autonomous Profession or Medical Specialty: The Stomatological Movement and American Dentistry. Bulletin of the History of Medicine; Baltimore, Md. Vol. 62, Iss. 3,  (Fall 1988): 407.
  • Loudon I, Why are (male) surgeons still addressed as Mr? BMJ. 2000 Dec 23; 321(7276): 1589–1591.
  • Otto M, Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America, The New Press, 2017.
  • Tung T and Organ CH, Ethics in Surgery: Historical Perspective Arch Surg. 2000;135(1):10-13.