Something to Chew On
The History of the Dental Chair

If you required a tooth extraction in the 1700s, it is quite likely that you wouldn't have had a stool to sit on during the process. Most  likely your dentist would have asked you to sit on the floor. He would have knelt behind you securing your head between his knees. This position provided easy access to your teeth and it kept your head still. This was prior to the invention of pain-killers, hence the reason for the hold down. Some dentists dealt with the squirmy patients and chose to set dental patients in a normal chair, without a head rest, while they were treated. Either experience used to be painful both for the patient and dentist.

In 1790, back and neck saver, Josiah Flagg, an American dentist, took a wooden chair and created a special head rest to improve the patient’s position, keeping the head in a fixed position while operating. He used a large Windsor style chair. He attached the head rest and an arm extension where he created space for dental equipment placement, and a place for patients to cling on to during tough procedures. The adjustments were revolutionary for that time and the actual design was used for a long time.

In 1832 the reclining chair was created. James Snell of London designed and created the first fully adjustable dental chair. The adjustment features were minor, but it helped innovate our current dental chair design, and by late 1800s, they were the most popular in the market.

In 1848, Milton Waldo Hanchett of Syracuse, NY patented the first modern dental chair. This chair included a headrest, a height-adjustable seat, and a back that could be tilted to put the patient and dentist at ease.

In 1867, Dr. James Beall Morrison, created the chair with foot pedals, and more movement. It had many new features such as footrest, ball-and socket joint beneath the chair, and vertical adjustment.

In 1877 Professor and dentist, Basil Manly Wilkerson introduced the first model of “The Wilkerson Chair”. This model featured an up-and-down trajectory. It was the world’s first pump-type hydraulic dental chair, and marketed at a “hefty” price of $175.

As in all other aspects of dentistry, chair technology still to this day continues to advance. Chairs we use today are made of steel, plastic, and aluminum. They all involve electronic or hydraulic components. This provides quick and smooth movements. Each design takes into account the latest in ergonomics, hygiene and convenience of the dentist.

The next time you find yourself in a dental chair, lay back, relax, and remember that you're enjoying the finest dental chair experience that history has to offer! It is something that we as dental care providers are very thankful every single day we are in the office.

Chairs of the past...



Today's Luxurious Possibilities!


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