How Pankey Dentists Shaped Modern Dentistry: Evolving Techniques

October 8, 2017 Jay Anderson DDS

We have a remarkable heritage at Pankey. Around the 1950’s and 1960’s, four innovations converged to permanently change the dental profession worldwide. Pankey dentists were part of the creation of all of them.

In my last post, I talked about the invention of the sit-down chair. Now, I’ll dive into time and motion studies, high speed air-driven rotary handpieces, and the “washed-field’ evacuation technique. These innovations had a significant impact on the future of dentistry.

Pankey Innovators of Modern Dentistry

Time and Motion Studies

These studies evaluated and changed how dentistry was delivered, e.g. four-handed dentistry, ergonomics, efficiency, etc. My father, Dr. John Anderson was a large part of that along with men from the east coast. Don Coburn from Canada was also a major time and motion researcher and later became a strong supporter of the Institute. My dad wrote several articles in the Dental Clinics of North America about office design related to time/motion principles.

High Speed Air-Driven Rotary Handpieces

Before the 1960’s, belt driven handpieces were the norm. Dr. Henry Tanner was at Bethesda at that time working with engineers designing this new high-speed technology. This too was reluctantly received by the profession at first but now one can’t imagine doing dentistry without it. Dr. Tanner was on the faculty at the Institute and you can find his portrait in Master’s Hall.

“Washed-field” Evacuation Technique

This is the type of high volume vacuum system we use each and every day today. It replaced the workhorse cuspidors used by everyone in the 50’s and early 60’s. The new water-cooled high-speeds needed this innovation for pulpal health and prepping efficiency. To my surprise, there are still cuspidors being used in operatories to this day. Elbert Thompson of Salt Lake City, Utah was the dentist that created a consumer friendly system of high volume evacuation. He was a friend of Dr. Pankey and an integral associate of these other innovators.

What Pankey history do you admire? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

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Jay Anderson DDS

Dr. Anderson practice in Grand Forks, ND in his own fee for service office until moving to Arizona in 2015. He now practices at Desert Sun Smiles in Glendale, AZ. He is a long time faculty member at the Pankey Institute. His passion for small group learning began as a member of a study club with Dr. Henry Tanner and then evolved into his facilitating numerous groups of dentists focused on appliance therapy and functional issues. Jay is passionate about individualized care and continuous learning.

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How Pankey Dentists Shaped the Evolution of Modern Dentistry: The ‘Sit-Down’ Chair

September 13, 2017 Jay Anderson DDS

Between the mid 1950s and early 1960s, four significant innovations converged to permanently change the dental profession worldwide. All four innovations had dentists behind them that were connected to the the Pankey Institute years later. Modern dentistry evolved from their forward thinking.

One of these innovations was ‘sit-down’ dentistry. My father Dr. John Anderson played a large part in designing the chair that enabled dentists to sit while working with patients. Today, I tell his story.

A Pankey Dentist Shapes Modern Dentistry: The ‘Sit-Down’ Chair

Up until the late 50s, most if not all dentists worldwide were standing up doing dentistry with no dental assistants. The ‘work smarter, not harder’ theme of the time period ushered in the need for a type of dental chair that could accommodate more efficient and better care of the patient, as well as benefits to the doctor’s own ergonomic health.

The major dental manufacturers of the day, when approached with the concept of sit-down dentistry, flatly said “that would never work.”

At a dental convention, my father Dr. John Anderson approached a contour chair exhibit and met a salesman/owner named John Naughton. Sales were not good. My father asked Naughton if he would be willing to risk a new application of his contour chair for dentistry. Naughton basically responded, “What do I have to lose? I’m going broke.”

The long and short of this is that the first sit-down dental chair was placed in my father’s Chicago dental office. It was a full contour chair that had some significant restrictions. My father suggested a split-back design that is now used by every dental chair manufacturer in the world.

The first split-back chair was produced by Dental-Ez Corporation and called the ‘J-Chair.’ It is still being used throughout the US and world along with many other designs. John Naughton later sold Dental-Ez for eight million dollars.

My father’s creativity in modifying the dental chair forever changed how dentists practice dentistry.

What makes you proud to be a Pankey dentist? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

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About Author

User Image
Jay Anderson DDS

Dr. Anderson practice in Grand Forks, ND in his own fee for service office until moving to Arizona in 2015. He now practices at Desert Sun Smiles in Glendale, AZ. He is a long time faculty member at the Pankey Institute. His passion for small group learning began as a member of a study club with Dr. Henry Tanner and then evolved into his facilitating numerous groups of dentists focused on appliance therapy and functional issues. Jay is passionate about individualized care and continuous learning.

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I AM INTERESTED IN

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