King's College London
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The birth of modern dentistry

LDS examinations

Oil painting of Thomas Arnold Rogers by J Sydney Willis Hodges. (BDA Museum ref: LDBDA 2941)Oil painting of Thomas Arnold Rogers by J Sydney Willis Hodges. (BDA Museum ref: LDBDA 2941)In 1860 candidates for the LDS exam had to provide certificates as evidence that they fulfilled the criteria for the LDS. These certificates were to the Board of Examiners who then drew up the list of candidates. The cost of the examination was 10 guineas.

Examination for the LDS consisted purely of a viva voce exam until 1872 when the first written examination was introduced. The Monthly Review of Dental Surgery remarks 'it cannot be doubted that the knowledge of the fact that the examination has become more stringent, will enhance the value of the diploma'.

The 1874 regulations for the LDS stated that the written section of the exam comprised questions on General Anatomy and Physiology and General Pathology and Surgery. The oral exam used preparations, casts and drawings to examine the candidate’s knowledge. Candidates who failed the exams could not be admitted to re-examination for six months.

In 1877 Sir John Tomes called for improvements to be made to the exam by the introduction of a practical element.

In 1897, the Royal College of Surgeons of England made further changes to the examination procedure. The LDS exam was divided into two; a final exam and an earlier examination which included dental mechanics and dental metallurgy. The curriculum was also adjusted to require all pupils to make and adjust six dentures. This change had already been suggested by the dental schools who felt that the Dentists Act 1878 hadn’t gone far enough in restricting the practise of dentistry. There were still many unqualified practitioners extracting teeth and providing dentures. The schools wanted to restrict the provision of dentures to only qualified dentists and it was hoped that providing more instruction on Dental Mechanics in the LDS curriculum would help achieve this.

The questions asked in the exams were often reproduced in the dental journals. The Monthly Review of Dental Surgery provides these questions from the LDS exams held on the 21st June 1872.

Anatomy and physiology:

1. Describe the process of mastication, enumerate the muscles which are concerned in it, and state their respective functions.

2. Describe the structure of salivary glands, their situation and relative size, the course and terminations of their ducts, and the influence of the saliva on food.

Pathology and surgery:

1. Describe the situation, pathology and treatment of an epulis.

2. What are the local symptoms of periostitis of the lower jaw? And what are its effects?

Dental anatomy and physiology:

1. Where is the enamel pulp situated? And what is its structure?

2. Describe the anatomical condition of the lower jaw in relation to the teeth, both temporary and permanent, in a child of five years of age.

3. In what direction does calcification take place in the dentine, the enamel, and the cementum?

Dental surgery:

1. What symptoms, local and general, would lead you to diagnose between inflammation of the pulp and inflammation of the investing membrane of the root or roots of the teeth?

2. What conditions of the teeth give rise to chronic closure of the jaws? How would you treat such closure, and the conditions giving rise to it?

3. Describe the casts numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4 and state how you would treat the irregularities of the teeth which they exhibit.

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