The final dedication ceremonies of the new building of the Harvard Dental School on Longwood avenue, Boston, were held yesterday. From 9 to 1 o'clock the building was open to public inspection and in the afternoon at 2.30 o'clock the formal exercises of dedication were held in Sanders Theatre. In the evening the Administrative Board of the Dental School concluded the two days of dedication by a banquet to 200 specially invited guests at the Hotel Somerset in Boston.
At 2.15 o'clock the President and Fellows, Overseers, Faculties, and Officers met the delegates of other institutions and other specially invited guests in Memorial Hall, whence they were escorted to Sanders Theatre. About 75, in academic dress, took seats on the platform. The members of the Dental and Medical Schools were seated in the orchestra and the Alumni Chorus of the Dental School, consisting of 36 voices, took seats in the balcony.
The meeting was brought to order by John R. Fairbairn, Sheriff of Middlesex County. Following the selection, "The Heavens Proclaim Him" by the Alumni Chorus and the prayer by Francis G. Peabody '69,. D.D., LL.D., Eugene H. Smith '74, D.M.D., Dean of the Dental School, was introduced by Morris H. Morgan '81, Ph.D., LL.D., University Marshal. Dean Smith gave a detailed account of the development in the instruction of dentistry at Harvard College. Following this, Henry A. Christian '03, A.M., M.D., Dean of the Medical School, spoke on the relations of the two schools, one to the other, emphasizing the benefits each could derive from the other. The Alumni Chorus next sang "Unfold Ye Portals," after which George V. I. Brown, M.D., D.D.S., C.M., of the University of Iowa, spoke at length on the future of the two schools.
President Eliot was then introduced and spoke as follows:
President Eliot's Address.
The progress of dentistry during the past sixty years has been extraordinary. Indeed, dentistry as a profession requiring a wide range of varied knowledge and a high degree of skill of eye and hand may almost be said to have been created within that period. The work to be done by the dentist, and his materials and apparatus for doing that work are, for the most part, applications of three sciences: chemistry, physics, and biology, which have each made rapid progress since the middle of the nineteenth century. To the progress of applied chemistry, dentistry owes a large number of valuable new materials. Teeth used to be filled with gold, or other pure metal, chiefly in the form of foil, but now gold and other pure metals are used in many different forms. Alloys, or mixtures of metals not easily oxidized, are also available. Amalgams have come into use, and above all, very serviceable cements have been invented by German industrial chemists; and these cements imitate bone in appearance and in non-conducting power more closely than metals can. The discovery of vulcanite, an intimate mixture of caoutchouc with sulphur, was empirically made; but into the numerous uses of vulcanite in dentistry there enter many applications of chemical science and art. The progress of physics has furnished the dentist with new tools and apparatus of high value. The electric light prolongs his hours of labor and enables him to put a bright light into the mouth, an electrical current brings him the mechanical power for grinding and burnishing, and for the mechanical sweeping and ventilation of his office and his laboratory. The X-rays enables him to see clearly the condition of an ill-shaped jaw, or of misplaced teeth, and exactly what has happened to a fractured jaw. In a perfectly equipped dental laboratory or operating room, such as the new Dental Building contains, one may see in use a great variety of apparatus in which electrical current, compressed air, gas, and water are all ingeniously applied to producing a great variety of delicate and exquisite effects. The work to be done is all exact, and much of it is minute. The whole Dental Building illustrates the thorough application of the new learning which medical science has developed under the term asepticism. Since dentistry now comprehends surgical operations on the jaws, palate, and nose, a complete equipment for operations on those parts of the head is provided in the new Dental Building; and this equipment provides every precaution against septic poisoning which the medical science of the last thirty years has developed.
Dentistry begins its service to the human being in childhood, and endeavors to keep as long as possible the first teeth. Then begins the filling of teeth in which caries has appeared, the professional exhortation to cleanliness of the teeth, and the instruction in the means of keeping the teeth clean. The next service which the skilful dentist can render is straightening the second teeth when they appear in an irregular or disorderly manner. This is a service of no little consequence, for fine teeth contribute much to the comeliness of any human face, because the delightful human gesture called a smile usually uncovers the teeth. Next comes the process of filling or stopping the second teeth, which arrests that mysterious and perverse disintegration or decay of the bony part of the teeth which is called caries. I have already mentioned the great improvement in the materials and apparatus for filling which chemistry and physics have combined to provide. The extraction of teeth is a confession of professional failure. The dentist has not succeeded in keeping them. In many cases, of course, he has had no chance to do so. Anaesthetics and good instruments have robbed tooth-pulling of many of its former terrors. All along, the skilful dentist has been able to lesson or prevent many of the acute pains which disorders of the teeth and jaws frequently cause. He can treat successfully inflamed teeth and abscesses in the jaws, both of which are apt to give exquisite pain. It is much to say of any profession that it reduces the amount or the intensity of human pain, for pain is an unmixed evil, and whoever abates it for multitudes or for one individual, is a real benefactor. As life advances, dentistry is able to repair the loss of teeth caused by wear, accident, and disease; that is, dentistry can supply artificial teeth singly, in groups, or in sets, and by doing so can check or in part prevent the dilapidation of the human countenance by age, and provide the indispensable means of chewing food. Thereby active and enjoyable life can unquestionably be prolonged. This is one of the reasons for the advancing limit of active life in the well-to-do classes. Dentistry does not often save life in dangerous crises, as surgery does, but on the whole the dentist within his range is more frequently successful than the surgeon is, and his range includes many preventions of pain, contributions to comfort and enjoyment, and prolongations of activity and usefulness.
It is obvious that the profession of dentistry in its improved state requires an elaborate educational preparation, a preparation which must provide opportunity to acquire a large amount of varied knowledge, and a high degree of ocular and manual skill. Therefore a dental school is a proper part of a university.
The profession has every reason to be content with its progress during the past sixty years; but it is looking forward to further development. It is expecting a separation of the professional work on the patient from the mechanical work, which can be done by a skilled mechanic on a pattern or mold. It will not long be necessary, indeed, it is not now necessary, that the professional dentist should make with his own hands bridges, plates, or other carriers of artificial teeth. The dentist of the future will make all the designs or patterns needed, just as the orthopaedic surgeon does; but he will employ skilled mechanics working in a dental laboratory to execute those designs. This change will diminish the amount of mechanical labor to be done by the professional man. Numerous analogous changes have already been made in other professions.
Just as preventive medicine anticipates for itself a great public function in the prevention of disease and the promotion of health among the mass of the population, so dentistry looks forward to rendering public service. It is looking forward to thorough inspection of school children as regards teeth, nose, and throat, and believes it can render a great service to the community through the establishment of this systematic inspection at public expense. It is already rendering a large amount of gratuitous service to the poor in hospitals and infirmaries. It looks forward to a great increase in the amount of this service. The Harvard Dental teachers are already giving free instruction by popular lectures; but the profession as a whole is ambitious to render much greater service in this direction.
Finally, the dental profession, like the medical profession, sees plainly before it a large field for research. For example, it will seek for the causes or sources of that great evil, caries. It desires to take part in learning what diet will best develop sound teeth in childhood, and maintain them in adult years. In short, reasonably content with the applications it has made during the past sixty years of acquired knowledge and skill, it aspires to win more knowledge through the efforts of its own investigators. The dental profession aspires to take part in the noble search for new truth.
This address was followed by "Loyal Song," sung by the Alumni Chorus. Dr. Morgan then introduced Charles A. Coolidge '81, Artt.D., representing the firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, the architects of the new building. He formally presented the keys to President Lowell who made the following address of acceptance:
Address of President Lowell.
"It is altogether appropriate that the announcement of the completion of this building, which you have so admirably conceived, should be made in the presence of the whole University, for it symbolizes a stage in the development of the dental profession which has existed for some time and has now reached a point where it is worthy of commemoration.
"In its early stages dentistry was looked upon as a luxury of the rich, as a means of comfort and of health, and at the best of avoiding pain; but we now know that the care of the teeth and the mouth is one of the most important departments of preventive medicine.