For Dr. Carol Summerhays, DDS, a visit to the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore brought back some fond memories.
Though intrigued by a display highlighting the arcane and long-discredited notion that creatures known as tooth worms are the cause of dental health problems, it was a display featuring Dr. Clifton Orrin Dummett - a leader in dental education, historic preservation and professional organizations - that gave the incoming President of the American Dental Association a pleasant surprise.
“He’s the reason I’m here,” Dr. Summerhays said, gesturing toward Dr. Dummett’s likeness in the exhibit at the Museum of Dentistry.
She and a contingent from the American Dental Association’s Board of Trustees toured the museum, as well as the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, on Nov. 3 as a prelude to the organization’s annual convention being held in nearby Washington, D.C. At the convention, Dr. Summerhays would be elevated from president-elect to president.
The tour was led by Dr. Richard Manski, DDS, MBA, PhD, executive director of the museum; and Dr. Scott Swank, DDS, MS, the museum’s curator. Dr. Swank also gave a presentation on dental history that began with a Stone Age skull that showed evidence of a flint drill having been used to deal with an abscess in the jaw and continued into living memory. The following day, a contingent of ADA convention participants was treated to a similar experience at the museum, with about 35 people participating, followed by another two bus loads of people over the course of the ADA convention.
As for Dr. Summerhays and how she came to know Dr. Dummett, she recalled she was she was editor of her college newspaper and had occasion to meet Dr. Dummett.
“He took me under his wing,” Dr. Summerhays said. The two struck up a friendship that lasted nearly 40 years, ending with Dr. Dummett’s death in 2011.
Dr. Dummett would encourage Dr. Summerhays to pursue the presidency of the California Dental Association, a position she held during her mentor’s lifetime. A strong advocate for the American Dental Association, Dr. Dummett then encouraged Dr. Summerhays to pursue the presidency of that organization. He died after making the challenge, but his inspiration prompted Dr. Summerhays to continue her pursuit of the leadership position, she remembers.
She wasn’t the only one of the group to be struck by the artifacts in the museum.
“Don’t tell my wife about it,” joked Dr. Robert Bittner, a periodontist, teacher and ADA Trustee representing the Eighth District, Illinois. Dr. Bittner has a fair number of outdated dental tools in his garage, he said, noting that the technology changes rapidly and what is state of the art one day is history in short order. Notably, he said his collection includes gold foil mallets, used a generation or so ago to tap in gold fillings.
Dr. Bittner took note of the display featuring Dr. Greene Vardiman Black, a pioneering dentist who served dean of the Northwestern University Dental School starting in 1897. Dr. Bittner noted that while the University of Maryland School of Dentistry may be the oldest institution of its kind, there’s a lot of dental history associated with Northwestern.
For Dr. Jim Zenk, who practices general dentistry and is the Trustee for the ADA’s 10th District, Minnesota, the museum’s displays on preventing dental problems were the most striking.
“We can’t just fill all the holes. We need to prevent them,” he said.
Oral surgeon Dr. Gary E. Jeffers, Trustee for the ADA’s Ninth District, Michigan and Wisconsin, it was the array of historic oral surgery tools on display that were particularly striking. Though he had seen various artifacts of his profession, he was impressed by the number of such tools on display at the museum.
Also impressive to Dr. Jeffers was something a good deal more esoteric than oral surgery tools.
“They even have toys,” he said pointing out that, while he had seen toy physicians kits in the past, “I’ve never seen a toy dentists set before.”
Pictured: A contingent from the ADA leadership group visited the National Museum of Dentistry on Nov. 3. They are, back row, from left: Dr. Gary Jeffers, District 9 Trustee; Dr. Robert Bitter, District 8 Trustee; and Dr. James Zenk, District 10 Trustee; middle row, from left, Laurie Bitter, Nancy Jeffers, Dr. Terry Buckenheimer, District 17 Trustee; and front row, from left: Dr. Red Stevens, District 5 Trustee; Dr. Carol Summerhays, incoming president; Karen Buckenheimer, and Dr. Chad Gehani, District 2 Trustee.
For more photos, see http://bit.ly/1M2sIrz