The Bronx County Dental Society: A Very Short History


The Dental Society of the State of New York was given the authority to organize in 1868. At that time, the Bronx, as we know it today, was partially in Westchester County. Southern Boulevard was the northern border of the Bronx.

The contemporary Bronx had its first dental society in 1914 as a branch of the First District Dental Society. As time went by, many dentists all over the city felt that their economic, political and social needs were not being fulfilled by the district societies. Thus they organized their own dental societies in the different boroughs. The group in the Bronx was known as the Northern Dental Society. These various societies joined together to form the Allied Dental Council,-all outside of "organized dentistry".

The Northern Dental Society held various fund raising events, such as dances, picnics and golf outings, and donated the funds to various worthy groups.

The interests of the Bronx County Dental Society on the other hand, were integrated with those of First District. There was little, if any, political or social activism. There were relatively few "Bronx" officers of the FDDS. Dr. Percy Phillips was a notable exception.

World War II brought about the end of the Allied Dental Council and its affiliates. Dentists were not offered a commission in the Armed Forces unless they were members of the American Dental Association and its components. This forced members of the Allied Dental Council to also become members of "organized dentistry", which in turn led to the amalgamation of the Allied groups with their local district societies and their branches (1943-1944). The Bronx County Dental Society and the Northern Dental Society became the Bronx County-Northern Dental Society. After a few years, the "Northern" part was dropped. Since the members of the Northern Dental Society were more active in their society then were the Bronx men in theirs, the members of the Northern took over the Bronx County Dental Society almost by default. They tried to keep the members of the original Bronx group active in the new society but many of the original group felt that the Northern contingent was too liberal and too active for them. They stayed on as members of the FDDS but rarely attended meetings. Leaders of the FDDS also felt that the Bronx County group was too active and too liberal. Since the Bronx branch could do little of significance without the cooperation and/or permission of the FDDS, its Executive Board often felt powerless and frustrated.

With the passage of time, and a lot of effort by many individuals, this changed. The Bronx branch became an integral part of the FDDS with similar goals and desires. This was codified by the FDDS Good Government Committee. Dr. Herman Rubin was the second First District president from the Bronx on a rotational basis, and as the long-time co-chairman of the Good Government Committee, he had a most important role in monitoring the interests of the Bronx.

As early as 1942, the local Democratic political party attempted to have the Bronx declared a separate judicial district. This would have been good for Bronx dentists since they would be a component society instead of merely a branch. Finally, in 1982, the Bronx did become a separate judicial district. In 1984, the number of FDDS governors to the Dental Society of the State of New York was reduced by one. Since this loss had a great negative impact in the FDDS, it investigated several ways to regain some of its lost power and influence. If the Bronx became a component society, it would have its own two representatives on the Board of Governors. Since the Bronx and Manhattan worked well together, it was felt that the establishment of the Bronx Component Society would be beneficial for both parties, and a meeting was called to start the ball rolling.

January 1, 1985 saw the official birth of the Bronx County Dental Society, a component of the Dental Society of the State of New York.

Representatives have been sent up to the State, Postgraduate continuing education courses have been started successfully, and a great Installation-Inaugural Dinner Dance will be held in the Bronx on April 18, 1985.

Let us all strive now to make the Bronx a truly great dental society!!

Milton Wechsler, D.D.S.
Historian