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Bringing the history of dentistry to life

Dr. David Kenny, DDS’70, has embarked on a journey to bring the history of dentistry to life. He will be co-authoring a book about History of Dentistry at Western and completing a documentary history.

He’s thrilled to be co-authoring the book with Shelley McKellar, PhD, the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine, and an associate professor jointly appointed to the Departments of Surgery, and History.

McKellar believes the 50-year mark for Dentistry provides an opportune moment to reflect on the journey of the Dentistry program at Western. A medical historian, McKellar hopes to bring the broader historical context of dental training and practice in a changing health care environment to the project. “The project will take note of how Dentistry at Western is different from other Canadian programs and highlight initiatives and innovations that originated at Western.”

Drs. Kenny and McKellar will also be working closely with Anne Daniel, Western Archives, one of the University’s archivists. “With Anne’s involvement, we will ensure that historical photos, written records and related material will be well preserved and cared for at Western. The Medical Artifact Collection at Western will welcome the donation of dental objects adding to the tooth keys, dental drills and other dental equipment already in the collection,” said McKellar.

The documentary history project, which will collect mementos, journals, photographs and historical items for study, and the book, will take about two years to complete.

Dr. Kenny is not deterred by the enormity of the task however. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of Dentistry, he’s energized by the support already received by Dr. Michael J. Strong, Dean of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Dr. Wes Dunn, and many of his fellow alumni.

Dr. Kenny is also looking forward to attending a number of upcoming events including the Ontario Dental Association reception, the 50th anniversary gala and Homecoming. He hopes to share more details about the book with his classmates and others at the events, and encourages them to share their memorabilia and memories to support the projects.

Learn more about Dr. Kenny and the History of Dentistry at Western project.

If you would like to share artifacts, photographs or your personal Western experience with Dr. Kenny or Professor McKellar, please send an email to Dr. Kenny at