The first dental hospital in Brisbane

Commemorative portrait to David Eden. This framed photograph was presented to Mr David Eden (bigger oval), founder and first president of the Dental Hospital and the Odontological Society. The following inscription can be read: Presented to Mr D.R. Eden by the committee of the Brisbane Dental Hospital in recognition of his untiring efforts in establishing this Institution. Founded 1908.

The presentation of the photograph above took place at the Annual General Meeting of the Brisbane Dental Hospital on 31 May 1917, three months prior to Mr Eden’s death.

Five of the founding members of the Odontological Society of Queensland, forerunner of our ADA branch, are pictured here. One is Mr Reginald Webb, then president of the Odontological Society of Queensland. Mr Webb’s grandson generously donated this item. 

At the opening meeting of the Society on 18 May 1905, Eden had called for the establishment of a University and a Dental Hospital, essential if the Society wanted to raise the status of the Dental Profession.

Group of men standing in front of the Brisbane Dental Hospital on George Street, 1917. State Library of Qld (V1-FL338565)

His vision was to create an institution for the study of dentistry, and alleviate the "distress and suffering of the poor" by providing a free service for those who could not afford private treatment. In the early stages, the Dental Hospital, in Elizabeth Street with its single chair, was staffed by 12 dentists who worked gratis on a rotating roster. The hospital accepted apprentices who completed their two-year practice there, and in 1914 it was recognised as a teaching institution.
The Government offered the Westbourne residence in George Street for a new expanded facility that catered for students (1916). Students in the final two years were assisted by thirty honorary demonstrators on a rotating system. In 1926, the former apprenticeship system was completely abolished, and the Home Office took over the Dental Hospital, and all dental education was controlled by a Joint Board of Dental Studies. 

"Kindness and sympathy cannot be bought, but are appreciated by all, being alike to rich and poor...

Mr Eden's address, opening meeting of the Odontological Society of Queensland, 1905

Want to learn more about the history of the dental association in Queensland, or you have a story to tell?

Contact the MoD committee at [email protected] to organise a visit