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Eighth District Dental Society and the origins of the UB School of Dental Medicine

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The University of Buffalo Department of Dentistry was organized in 1892 with a number of faculty who also were integrally involved with the founding of the first professional dental societies in New York State, most notably, in the western region, the Eighth District Dental Society of the State of New York. The Eighth District Dental Society is a professional association whose members consist of dentists from the eight counties of Western New York: Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Chautauqua, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Wyoming and Orleans.

The purpose of these professional dental societies was to facilitate the exchange of knowledge about dentistry among practitioners as well as to formalize a standard course of study for dental practice and, thereby, to raise dentistry to the level of a legitimate profession comparable to that of medical doctors. The Eighth District Dental Society of the State of New York was founded in 1868 with a membership of forty-two many of whom would go on to contribute to the establishment in 1892 and early success of the University of Buffalo Dental Department, now known as the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. These early UB faculty members were as follows: William C. Barrett, M.D., D.D.S., Professor of Oral Pathology and Practice and first Dean of the dental school; Alfred P. Southwick, M.D.S., Professor of Operative Technics and Secretary/Treasurer until his death in 1898; F.E. Howard, M.D.S., Professor of Operative Dentistry; Herbert A. Birdsall, M.D., D.D.S., Professor of Dental Materia Medica and Therapeutics; and George B. Snow, D.D.S., as Clinical Professor of Mechanics Technics. This faculty called to their aid an extensive group of contacts through their professional dental society memberships, experts and teachers from the dental profession throughout Western New York and beyond. There were 46 matriculates the first year and the first (1892) graduating class consisted of the following notable dental professionals including: T. DeForrest Phillips, W.J. Crawford, E.H. Lamport, William C. Smith, and Daniel H. Squire who, later, would serve as a UB professor and as Dental School Dean from 1912 until his death in 1935.

William C. Barrett became the first Dean of the University of Buffalo Dental Department (later, renamed the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine) and served from its beginnings in 1892 to 1903. George Burwell Snow was the second Dental Department Dean and served from 1903 to 1912 and Daniel H. Squire was the third Dean (1912-1935). Daniel H. Squire set the precedence of at least one year of proper scholastic training at the college level for dentists which, in turn, helped set the standard for New York State requirements for the profession and uplifted its status via a thorough knowledge of the pathology of disease in addition to technical skill. Beginning with the 1917-1918 academic year, the course of dental instruction at the University of Buffalo was increased from three to four years. Concurrently, the Eighth District Dental Society of New York State continued its mission of support and encouragement of the improvement of the public health, improvement of the art and science of dentistry and to represent the interests of its professional members and the public which it serves.