Norman Kingsley, M.D.S., D.D.S., (1829-1913) the “Father of Modern Orthodontics”, was a prominent educator, author, sculptor, painter and founding Dean of New York College of Dentistry (1865-1869).
He studied dentistry with his uncle A. W. Kingsley, M.D., of Elizabeth, NY. His apprenticeship lasted 6 months and cost him $50. Showing considerable talent at carving ‘block teeth”, the process by which dentures were created, he became the sole person responsible for carving all dentures in his uncle’s lab. In 1849 he meat Dr. Eleazer Parmley who became one of the supporters of the 20-year old Norman. After practicing for several years in New York, his work drew national and international attention. His carvings of porcelain teeth mounted on gold were of such perfection that he received the gold and silver medal, respectively at the New York (1855) and Paris (1856) World Fairs, where he exhibited them. His reputation for beautifully executed works work led others to seek him out for innovative solutions to uncommon oral problems. He was the first to carve out and cast a gold obturator for a cleft palate patient. Covering the obturator with softer vulcanite made wearing the device much more comfortable. Providing care to a national and international list of patients who flocked to his Broadway office sealed Norman Kingsley as the “father of modern orthodontics”.
At the age of 37 he was elected as the founding dean of New York College of Dentistry, and its first Professor of Dental Art and Mechanism. He remained Dean until April 1, 1869 when he resigned citing failing health. In 1871, after returning to private practice, Dr. Norman Kingsley received an Honorary Degree from the Baltimore College of Dentistry. Norman Kingsley was a prolific author. He published “An inquiry into the Cause of Irregularities in the Development of the Teeth” (1874), “Surgery or Mechanism in the Treatment of Congenital Cleft Palate” (1876) and “Civilization in its Relation to the Increasing Degeneracy of the Human Teeth”, 1881. The work that earned him the reputation as The Father of Modern Orthodontics was entitled “Treatise on Oral Deformities as a Branch of Mechanical Surgery” (1880). The copy in our collection belonged to the second dean of the College, Frank Abbott, MD.