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Frank Abbott (September 5, 1836 – April 20, 1897) was president of the American Dental Association (1888), president of the National Association of Dental Faculties (1895), a renowned dentist, an author on dental subjects, and an inventor of dental instruments such as various types of chisels, pluggers, excavators and scalers, some of which are still in use in the 21st century.


Born to a transplanted English family, he attended local schools in York County, Maine and farmed in Shapleigh, Maine until the age of 16, when he began to travel. Beginning in 1855, he studied dentistry under Dr. J.E. Ostrander in Oneida, New York. At the age of 22 he opened his own dental practice in Johnstown, New York, and married Catherine Ann Cuyler, with whom he would have three children.

Upon the outbreak of the American Civil War, he served as a lieutenant of the 115th New York Volunteer Infantry, and was captured at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. He returned as a part of a prisoner exchange.

Dental career[]

After the civil war he returned to his practice. A year later he matriculated as a medical student at the City University of New York. While there he was appointed as clinical lecturer in New York College of Dentistry (1866), as Professor of Operative Dentistry (1868) and as dean, (1869).

From 1894 - 1895 he failed in attempts to have the trustees there establish a Chair of Pathology and Bacteriology (with his son as incumbent) and to have the University of New York regents replace an act of incorporation of the college with a new regent-approved charter.[citation needed]

Other subsequent initiatives of his also later failed. In addition to the invented dental instruments mentioned above, he also invented the first authomatic mallet with an effective back-action. He also collected rare American history prints.[citation needed]

Notable publications[]

  • Light vs. Heavy Gold Foil and Crystal Gold
  • Transactions of the American Dental Association, 1870, pp. 130–33
  • Indigestion, It's Causes and Effects
  • Translations of the State Dental Society of New York, 1875, pp. 39–48
  • Caries of the Teeth
  • Dental Cosmos, XXI, 1879, pp. 56–64, 113-25, 177-84
  • Pericementitis (Perostitis), Its Causes and Treatment
  • Dental Cosmos, XXV, 1883, pp. 418–23
  • Microscopical Studies upon the Absorption of the Roots of Temporary Teeth
  • Translations of the State Dental Society of New York, 1884, pp. 45–53
  • Hyperostosis of Roots of Teeth
  • Transactions of the American Dental Association, 1886, pp. 105–24
  • Odontoblasts in Their Relation to Developing Dentine, 1888, pp. 112–22
  • Odontoblasts in Their Relation to Developing Dentine, 1889, pp. 39–53
  • Growth of Enamel
  • Dental Pathology and Practice (1896 textbook)

See also[]


  • Johnson, Allen, ed. Dictionary of American Biography. New York:Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936.
  • Who Was Who: Historical Volume, 1607-1896, Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1967.

pam:Frank Abbott