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Dentist Chair

Date: c. 1930


Description: This dental chair was a gift of Horst G. Blume, a dental practitioner in the early and mid-20th century in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. There is a stand that came with the chair that held a variety of tools and other equipment of Dr. Blume. Dr. Blume’s dentist office would have been rather different than the one we know today. Most early dentists did not use any anesthetic; Novacain was developed in the 1920s but not widely used until much later. Before Novacain many doctors used cocaine as an available anesthetic. In the early and mid-19th century when Blume was practicing, fluoride had just been developed as a key method in fighting tooth decay. People also began using toothpaste and toothbrushes regularly, which was a change from the Victorian era. Teeth whitening was all the range in this time, and a common whitening agent that people used was hydrochloric acid, which certainly whitened teeth but did so by wearing away layers of tooth enamel. Fillings were made of actual metal instead of the plastic resins of today, and this metal had to be superheated and melted down before applied to the teeth still molten. In Dr. Blume’s time there would have been another big change in his office: children. Children’s dentistry did not become common until the early 20th century. Dentists and other physicians were present in Sioux City since its founding; Dr. Cook had a medical license when he came to plat Sioux City in the 1850s. Medicine and dentistry was practiced by all manner of ethnic groups in Sioux City, who served their own kin and other groups around town.


Donor: Horst G. Blume


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