Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Ageeth Sluis

Second Advisor

Zachary Scarlett


In the early 1830’s, a pair of European ‘dentists’ brought a novel material for filling teeth into the United States. It was far less expensive and far easier to use than competing materials. This new potential ease at which some could practice dentistry put pressure on a situation of conflict between the educated dental professional, and the uneducated dentist. Quacks were the bane of the existence of an educated, gentleman dentist. They were openly condemned in private circles and in the press but the dental ‘charlatan’ was not the only person in the line of fire. Those who used mercury amalgam were often lumped together, whether they be trained or otherwise, and treated with similar amounts of disdain from the professional societies. The amalgam critics found ways to put down those who used amalgam in organizational publications and used essays, speeches, research, and case studies to support their efforts in keeping any dentist worth his salt from using amalgam. This was a period of progress wherein the setting was just right for an all-out dental scandal that had a hand in the creation and collapse of the first dental society and is influencing the field of dentistry to this day.