A century of influence: Part 3. The modern era

The story of orthodontics during the first 100 years of Journal publication can be told through the people who lived it. As part of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics Centennial Celebration, we present 100 people who most influenced the specialty during the last 100 years. Part 3 concludes with “The Modern Era” and describes those born in 1920 or later. They came of age near or after the end of World War II. Proprietary orthodontic schools and preceptorship training were giving way to expanding postgraduate university programs. The graduates of these rigorous programs fanned out across the country, making orthodontic specialty education available to an ever-widening circle of students and orthodontic treatment to new generations of patients.


  • Orthodontists born after 1920 came of age as university programs were expanding.

  • Postgraduate university education replaced proprietary schools and preceptorships.

  • Graduates made orthodontic education available across the country.

The youngest members of the “100 People of Influence” in orthodontics were born in the 1920s and beyond. Most came of age after the World War II, when colleges and universities in the United States were expanding. With a few exceptions, proprietary orthodontic schools and preceptorship training were giving way to postgraduate university departments, and graduates of these programs fanned out across the country, making orthodontic specialty education available to an ever-widening circle of students.

Samuel Pruzansky (1920-1984) studied orthodontics at the University of Illinois under Brodie, and he made understanding and correcting craniofacial anomalies his life’s work. He founded the Center for Craniofacial Anomalies at the University of Illinois, and he spurred national and international groups to focus on craniofacial problems, to the benefit of children worldwide.

Another University of Illinois graduate, Raymond Carl Thurow (1920-2009), practiced orthodontics in Madison, Wisconsin, for nearly 50 years. He was an author, inventor, lecturer, teacher, and leader. He was a founding member of the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics and served as president of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) in 1979.

An iconoclast in the world of orthodontics, Robert M. Ricketts (1920-2003), studied bone growth, morphologic variations of the face and jaws, arthritis of the jaw joint, cleft palate treatment, cephalometrics, computerization, psychology, rehabilitative mechanics, and treatment effects—and challenged traditional thinking on all of these topics. He was a pioneer in the study and treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders. He collaborated with Rocky Mountain Orthodontics on new products and developments. He championed the bioprogressive technique, coauthoring many texts on it and lecturing around the world.

James E. Brophy (1921-1985) is one of the few people on the “100 People of Influence” list who was not an orthodontist, a physician, or an anatomist—in fact, not a medical person at all. Mr Brophy made his mark on orthodontics through his work as executive director of the AAO, a post he held for over 25 years. He “created a standard of excellence in handling the affairs of dental society activities that had never before been approached. His kind yet firm manner was of great service…to dentistry.” He lived up to his nickname, Jim “No Problem” Brophy, over and over, but perhaps no more so than in 1978 and 1979, during the design and construction of the AAO’s “remarkably fine” headquarters building at 460 N Lindbergh in St Louis.

Kalevi Koski (1921-1998) brought modern orthodontic education to Finland, teaching at the universities of Helsinki and Turku. He was editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the Finnish Dental Society and editor of Acta Odontologica Scandinavica . He was a popular lecturer at home in Finland, in Europe, and in the United States. He received the International Association for Dental Research Distinguished Scientist Award in 1989 for his work in craniofacial biology.

Oklahoman Lester Levern Merrifield (1921-2000) earned a degree in agriculture before turning his attention to dentistry and orthodontics. He practiced in Ponca City for 50 years. He attended his first Tweed course in 1953 and did not miss a course or a meeting in the next 46 years. He was devoted to the Tweed Foundation, and when Tweed died in 1970, Merrifield was named its director. He encouraged others to pursue excellence and professionalism in the service of others in all aspects of life, and made his own life an example.

Ernest H. Hixon (1922-1972) was a world traveler from the start of his life to the very end. He was born in Germany to American parents who were spending a sabbatical term there, and he died in Argentina. In between, he lived in the States, including while attending dental school and graduate orthodontics at the University of Iowa, but he also enjoyed academic appointments at universities in Canada, Iowa, Mexico, Oregon, New Zealand, and Peru. He was an orthodontic educator who was interested in everything in the world.

After studying dentistry in Paris, Viken Sassouni (1922-1983) came to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned advanced degrees in orthodontics, physical anthropology, and dental surgery. He was chairman of the University of Pittsburgh orthodontic department when he died. He applied his deep learning to a number of problems. Sassouni’s cephalometric analysis (1955) stressed vertical and horizontal relationships and the interaction between proportions of the craniofacial structures. With William Krogman, he developed a forensic system of identifying human remains from craniofacial radiographs.

In 1949, Richard A. Riedel (1922-1994), a graduate of Northwestern University’s orthodontic program, accepted a temporary post at the University of Washington. He stayed 45 years, long enough to serve as chairman of the orthodontic department and associate dean of the dental school (as well as acting dean for a year). Above all, he was a beloved and admired instructor, a good listener who had a knack for understanding other people’s problems. He served in the U.S. Navy Dental Corps in World War II and provided volunteer dental care in Brazil.

Wayne Allen Bolton (1922-2011) studied under Moore and Riedel at the University of Washington and was a graduate of its first orthodontic class in 1952. Believing that tooth size, and specifically mesiodistal width, was underappreciated in orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning, he conducted a classic study to show that tooth ratios could “without difficulty, be made a diagnostic aid which allows the orthodontist to gain insight into the functional and esthetic outcome of a given case without the use of a diagnostic setup.”

Like many other alumni of Brodie’s orthodontic department at the University of Illinois, J. Daniel Subtelny (1922-2014) shared his learning with the next generation of students. He was the founding chair of what is now the Eastman Dental Center at the University of Rochester in New York, and 300 students studied under him during his 50-plus years there. He founded the Cleft Palate Team at Eastman and was a pioneer in craniofacial orthodontics. He loved to laugh, dance, travel, and fish.

Although he studied dentistry and practiced it for a short time, Melvin L. Moss (1923-2006) is best remembered for his work as an anatomist. He united his interests in a defining theory of facial growth, which he called the “functional matrix theory.” His work significantly affected the application of orthopedics in the early treatment of malocclusion and helped shift orthodontics away from a mechanical perspective and back to a biological one.

Another man of big ideas, Alexandre G. Petrovic (1925-2003), was nearly denied a career in science. Living in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, at the end of World War II, he was not permitted to study medicine. He left Yugoslavia for France in 1947 and enrolled in medical school there. He earned his MD degree in 1954 and then did advanced work in hematology and dentistry. At McGill University in Montreal, he learned about “radioautography” and became fascinated with the study of skeletal growth. His work helped explicate craniofacial biology and growth. He greatly admired and was influenced by science philosopher Sir Karl Popper.

Harold T. Perry (1926-2012) joined the U.S. Army during his senior year in high school and served overseas during World War II. Back home, he fought fires in Montana before resuming his studies. He enrolled in junior college and then the University of North Dakota before turning to dentistry and orthodontics at Northwestern University in Chicago. He chaired the orthodontic department there for 25 years. He was a teacher at heart, selected as one of the 20 most outstanding faculty members in the school’s 100-year history. He maintained a private practice for more than 30 years and was generous with those in need.

Canadian orthodontist Donald G. Woodside (1927-2013) led the orthodontic department at the University of Toronto, but he was known and respected around the world. He delivered both the Mershon and the Salzmann honorary lectures at AAO annual sessions and was a Sheldon Friel Memorial Lecturer for the European Orthodontic Congress. He held honorary memberships in the Italian Orthodontic Society, the British Society for the Study of Orthodontics, the Dutch Society of Orthodontists, the South African Society of Orthodontists, the Taiwan Association of Orthodontists, and the Ontario Association of Orthodontists. In 1996, he was named a member of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Canadian government and, in 2003, received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.

One of the first academic interests of Donald H. Enlow (1927-2014) was bones—specifically, million-year-old dinosaur bones. This eventually led him to the study of modern human anatomy. Although he was not a dentist, he chaired the orthodontic department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland for over a decade. He used his interest and expertise in biology and facial growth to attract students from around the world. His work mapping the bones of the face helped clinicians to understand how a face changes as it matures, and he reported his findings in 8 textbooks on facial growth.

Swedish physician Per-Ingvar Brånemark (1929-2014) also had an early interest in bones. In the early 1950s, he implanted titanium-encased optical devices in animal bones to study blood flow and healing. When he went to remove the devices, he found that the metal had fused to the bone and could not be removed. He called the process “osseointegration.” From this apparent failure came the notion that titanium devices might be useful in places where permanence was desired, and Brånemark became the father of modern dental implants.

After graduating from the University of Houston, Thomas D. Creekmore (1931-2002) joined the U.S. Air Force and flew jets, including the F-86 Sabre. Perhaps it was that experience that taught him to take nothing for granted. With his military service complete, he enrolled in dental school at the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston, and then studied orthodontics in a preceptorship arrangement with Fred Schudy. He was a lifelong student, a critical thinker who was always searching for understanding or a better way. He patented several orthodontic appliances and was especially interested in lingual appliances.

Ronald H. Roth (1933-2005) was another of those larger-than-life personalities in orthodontics. Today, various appliances, prescriptions, and philosophies bear the name “Roth,” although to friends and students he was simply “Ron.” A gnathologist, he passionately believed and eloquently argued that mounting diagnostic casts on an articulator was the only way to diagnose and correct to a properly functioning occlusion, and he insisted on “harmonious functioning of the temporomandibular joints.”

During his junior year in college in Stockholm, Lennart Wieslander (1933-2009) was a top-ranked national tennis player. Although he remained competitive in sports throughout his life, he chose a much different career path. After earning a dental degree in Stockholm, he came to Seattle to study orthodontics under Moore at the University of Washington. He published, taught in Sweden and Switzerland and for a year in Oregon, and lectured around the world. He was a founding member of the Angle Society of Europe in 1974.

George F. Andreason (1934-1989) taught at the University of Iowa for nearly 30 years and chaired the orthodontic department there for over a decade. He was respected as a clinician but perhaps was best known for his work on the biomechanics of orthodontic treatment. He was a pioneer in the use of nickel-titanium alloys in orthodontic treatment and earned the 1980 Iowa Inventor of the Year Award for his work with Nitinol.

Beni Solow (1934-2000) studied dentistry and orthodontics at the Royal Dental College of Copenhagen. In his 1966 thesis work he examined patterns of craniofacial associations, and he collaborated with engineers at Denmark’s Technical University to use a computer and punch cards to process the cephalometric data he had collected. He led the orthodontic program at the Royal Dental College of Copenhagen for 18 years.

Samir E. Bishara (1935-2010) was born in Cairo, Egypt, and studied dentistry and orthodontics at Alexandria University. He practiced in Egypt for 11 years and then had an opportunity to complete a fellowship in pediatric dentistry at the Guggenheim Clinic in New York. He earned DDS and MS degrees in orthodontics at the University of Iowa and, at the urging of George Andreasen, joined the faculty there. He researched, published, and lectured internationally, but he cherished his role as an educator.

As an undergraduate student at Harvard, Anthony A. Gianelly (1936-2009) played football and rugby and competed on the varsity track team. He also earned a DMD degree from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, followed by a certificate in orthodontics from Harvard/Forsyth, and a PhD degree in biology and biochemistry as well as an MD degree from Boston University. He spent the next 40 years as an educator, administrator, and mentor.

Although he was born in Estonia, Jüri Kurol (1942-2011) is remembered as a Swede. He studied at the Royal Dental School in Malmö, served in the Swedish Dental Public Health Service, and completed a 3-year postgraduate orthodontic program at the University of Göteborg. He studied the eruption of maxillary canines and premolars, and his work contributed to standard procedures for the dental public health service. Later in his career, his interest turned to orthodontic magnets and tissue reactions in connection with tooth movement.

When Vincent G. Kokich (1944-2013) retired in 2010, he didn’t really retire. He simply traded an incredibly full schedule of teaching, writing, lecturing, and treating patients for an equally full schedule as editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics . During his tenure as Associate Editor for Case Reports the previous decade, he had already put his mark on that section of the Journal , formalizing and tightening the requirements for publication. As editor-in-chief, he strengthened the requirements for all other submissions and introduced several features, including “Residents’ Journal Review” and “Point-Counterpoint.”

An engineer and materials scientist, Robert P. Kusy (1947-2008) was recruited to the dental research center at the University of North Carolina. Although his interests and responsibilities there were broad, he devoted most of his research time and energy to studying orthodontic materials. Friction and binding between archwires and brackets were his specialty, but he was also interested in how wires behave in bending and torsion, and in the fabrication of new materials that might confer greater biocompatibility on wires and brackets. He received a Teaching Excellence award at the University of North Carolina and tried to keep on teaching through the illness that took his life prematurely. He loved music, both playing the accordion and singing.


The youngest members of the “100 People of Influence” in orthodontics were born in the 1920s and beyond. Most came of age as colleges and universities in the United States were expanding, and opportunities for higher education became available to more students than ever before. Proprietary orthodontic schools and preceptorship training gave way to graduate university departments, and the graduates of these programs fanned out across the country, making orthodontic specialty education available to an ever-widening circle of students and orthodontic treatment to new generations of patients.

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Apr 6, 2017 | Posted by in Orthodontics | Comments Off on A century of influence: Part 3. The modern era
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