The Edmonton and District Dental Society Celebrates 100 years!
Edmonton and District Dental Society 1913 – 2013
By Dr. Douglas Lobb – Life member and Past-President (1996) of the EDDS
When I first graduated from the University of Alberta, Faculty of Dentistry I had the privilege to practice with Dr. Douglas MacDougall in Edmonton (EDDS President 1964). I remember to this day his highest recommendation to a ‘new’ dentist was to join the Edmonton and DistrictDental Society. He said “you will never regret that decision, you will receive some of the finest continuing education in dentistry, meet your fellow colleagues, learn and grow with your community and be a life long learner”. That advice was not only true but it is as important today as it was 36 years ago.
The Edmonton and District Dental Society (EDDS) is Alberta’s oldest dental society and one of the most well attended dental societies in North America. In 1910 the fore-runner of the EDDS, the Edmonton Dental Club was founded. It had eleven charter members and Dr. J. G. Roberts was the first President. The admission fee was two dollars. Three years later the name was changed to the Edmonton Dental Society with its first organizational meeting held on February 25, 1913. A constitution and bylaws were adopted and Dr. J. G. Roberts again served as the first President. There were twenty three charter members and the meetings were held every second month. The fee for the season was set at five dollars. New members were required to read a paper to the Society.
According to Dr. H. R. MacLean’s book The History of Dentistry in Alberta 1880 – 1980 the Calgary District Dental Society was also formed in 1913.
During this time, the:
• Prime Minister of Canada was Sir Robert Borden
• Premier of the Province of Alberta was Mr. Arthur Sifton
• President of the University of Alberta was Dr. Henry Marshall Tory
• Mayor of Edmonton was Mr. William Short.
The EDDS meetings were well reported in the Edmonton Bulletin and sixteen members of the Society volunteered their services one day a month to work in the Dental Clinic of the Edmonton Public School Board. The willingness of past EDDS members and their support staff to contribute to their community and to those less fortunate has continued as a hallmark of our Society to this day.
In 1915 ladies contributed to the musical entertainment at five meetings – solos and readings were presented. For many years there was an active ‘dental wives’ social club. This demographic has certainly changed over the last four decades as more women have earned dental degrees and become active members of the EDDS and the dental profession. Social functions though, continue to be an important and a strong part of this Society.
Initially the medical profession was represented at almost all of the meetings and took an active part in any discussions. It is unfortunate that this trend has not continued in more recent years; perhaps with the amalgamation of the two professions at the University of Alberta to a Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, we can look forward to having our medical colleagues return as participants and presenters.
During two world wars, members of our Society leaving to serve its country were honoured. Frequently members of the Canadian Army Medical Corps were guests of our Society. At the conclusion of World War II, many soldiers returned to Canadian universities to complete their education. A number studied dentistry and joined dental societies across Canada including the EDDS. With military dental clinics in CFB Griesbach and Namao (now Edmonton Garrison) the EDDS has had a close relationship with our military colleagues and the Royal Canadian Dental Corps.
There were many prominent speakers whom addressed the EDDS in its first fifty years, including:
• Premier Manning
• Eight presidents of the Canadian Dental Association
• Two Deans of Eastern dental schools and two of American dental schools
• Several lawyers, a Dean of Law and a Dean of Education
• Two mayors of the City of Edmonton
• Fifty-two medical specialists, and
• A publisher of the Edmonton Journal.
The second fifty years was a transition in many ways for the dental profession, the EDDS and life in general. We have witnessed great innovations and improvements that have shaped and continue to shape us and our world; some examples are:
• Introduction of the air rotor and high speed instrumentation including ultrasonics and lasers
• Development of tooth and ceramic bonding to change how we restore teeth and address the public’s demand for esthetics
• Introduction of implants, implant therapy and the supporting bone and soft tissue augmentation
• Improved understanding of physiologic and pathologic processes
• Development and miniaturization of semiconductor technology that has given us access
to computers, the internet, search engines, cell phone technology, digitization of film – photography and radiographs
• The changing demographics of health care professionals and the professions themselves.
Traditions are important for societies, including the EDDS. Some traditions have changed as we have grown and others have remained the hallmark of our Society.In 1919 the first organized golf tournament was held, and picnics and baseball games were offered during the summer months. Golf tournaments and a curling league have remained popular sporting events enjoyed by many EDDS members today. In 1923 a formal dinner and dance was held at the Macdonald Hotel. This became an established practice in the following years. Social events such as the President’s Ball and Dental Wives Club changed over time, becoming less popular and giving way to other ‘fun’ events such as the Lobster fest.
Community and social responsibilities have remained a very important part of the EDDS history. Our Society has been instrumental in a number of activities, such as:
• The EDDS and many of its members have graciously donated their dental supplies, money and time to provide dental treatment for the Boyle McCauley Health Centre,
benefiting inner city residents who would not otherwise have ready access to dental health care.
• Start School Smiling initiative allowing elementary grade children free dental check ups and teeth cleaning each September.
• Open Wide where one day of free dental care was provided to those with high needs and limited resources. This service is now provided by the students and staff of the University
of Alberta, School of Dentistry.
• Donations and volunteering in third world countries. Many EDDS members have provided dental services in areas such as Central America, South America, Caribbean, South-East Asia, and most recently Uganda, Africa.
Despite many changes and challenges each Board has faced, there are two areas that are the EDDS’s underpinnings and enduring pillars of strength. These are providing an unparalleled high level of continuing dental education and providing a forum where colleagues can meet and exchange ideas and points of view. Continuing dental education is really the raison d’être of this society. The EDDS can provide thebest speakers available in North America who lecture on every aspect and specialty of dentistry as well as on other topics that enrich the quality of our lives, family, and community. Relationships are a more difficult aspect to define or articulate, however they are a vital part of the EDDS. We have an ideal place to meet with our friends and dental school classmates, meet new colleagues, and invite our office and support staff to meetings and learn together. This is an ideal venue for dentists and dental specialists to interact and share ideas, as well as being an opportunity for dentists and allied dental health professionals such as assistants, receptionists, hygienists and technicians to interact with each other.
There has always been an important, integral and symbiotic relationship between the EDDS and the University of Alberta, Faculty of Dentistry; now the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry,
School of Dentistry. The EDDS has a proud history of supporting the University of Alberta and the School of Dentistry. Many members of the EDDS also participate as clinical and
academic instructors, teaching staff or researchers at the UA School of Dentistry; serving in many different disciplines. In 1994, then President of the University of Alberta, Dr. Paul Davenport recommended the closure of the Faculty of Dentistry as a cost-cutting measure. Amongst others, the EDDS took an active role to prevent Alberta’s only dental school from closing, inviting Dr. Davenport and Dean of Dentistry, Dr. Norman Wood to a special meeting to hear both sides of the issue and have the opportunity to pose questions to each other. We are grateful Dr. Davenport’s vision did not come to reality and the School of Dentistry is now part of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. The EDDS maintains a close relationship to organized dentistry. Each year the Alberta Dental Association and College is invited by the EDDS Board to present to its members on various topics of member and regulatory interest.
Over the years EDDS members have served in various positions with the Alberta Dental Association, now the Alberta Dental Association and College (ADA+C) and the Canadian Dental
Association (CDA) in committee, advisory, and governance roles. Serving on the EDDS Board is a unique opportunity to learn about organized dentistry and practice one’s governance skills. Many board members of the EDDS have continued to serve organized dentistry at the provincial level with the ADA+C, and at the national level with the CDA. To date three dentists have served as President of each organization: the EDDS, ADA+C, and the CDA; they are:
• Dr. Hector Maclean
• Dr. Bryun Sigfstead
• Dr. Richard Sandilands
Dr. Hector Maclean further distinguished himself as the Dean of the University of Alberta, Faculty of Dentistry from 1958 to 1970, retiring as Professor Emeritus. In 1977 Dr. Maclean was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, conferred by the University of Alberta. I am proud of the dentists who volunteer to serve as Board members of the EDDS and who continue to provide guidance and leadership for our Society. There may be some new challenges or ways to improve our Society and each year’s Board has brought their own unique skills and professionalism to the task. For example, the EDDS offered a trade show with mini-lectures every spring, called the Spring Symposium. Through a consultative process, the EDDS Board decided to improve the format and change the date of the Spring Symposium to September, thus providing a ‘kick-off’ event to start each EDDS season. Today, the EDDS holds Alberta’s premier trade show and conference – the Northwest Dental Exposition. This year’s date is September 27, 2013. This year Alberta celebrates one hundred years of service by its two largest dental societies: the Edmonton and District Dental Society and the Calgary and District Dental Society. Through their ongoing educational programs, Alberta dentists continue to improve their education, knowledge, and skills. Ultimately though, it is all Albertans who benefit from these societies, not just with better educated dentists, but more importantly though, with improved health and dental health.