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Dentistry Moves In:

Dr. G. A. McConnachie


Wanda Anderson


Dentistry had not been considered as a profession at thebeginning of the nineteenth century. The country doctor usually carrieda tooth forceps along with his other equipment in his medical bag and attendedto his patients with aching teeth by extracting the offending tooth. Thiswas without doubt, extremely painful, since the only anesthetic known atthat time was a gulp or two of whisky which was swallowed by the victimbefore the extraction took place.

The first recognized school for dentistry was not foundeduntil 1840. Prior to that time, little thought had been given to this asa specialized field. Up through the ages, some form of crude dentistry hadbeen attempted. In some instances, teeth were extracted, and if this wasnot possible, primitive medicines were applied, such as, tortoise blood,garlic, horse radish, or juices from various roots and herbs. Even magicwas called upon as a cure for aching teeth. Chants were intoned when themoon was rising, or when the planets Mars and Jupiter were visible. Wordssuch as "armidam" "marigdam" and "sturgidam"were thought to be effective in warding off tooth troubles.

It wasn't until a much later date that someone conceivedthe idea of trying to repair teeth by filling the cavities. The earliestmaterials used in these fillings were mixtures of gums and waxes. By thelate middle ages, doctors were using lead or gold for this purpose. An effectivepain killer for use during dental work was not discovered until the year1842 when Dr. Crawford W. Long of Jefferson, GA used sulfuric ether gasfor painless extraction of the tooth. Diseases of the gums were beginningto be more correctly diagnosed and medical remedies were being developedto effectively treat them. Knowledge of dental procedure had progressedto the stage where it became apparent that this should be a profession itself.

At an early age, George Arthur McConnachie decided thatdentistry would be an interesting and rewarding career. When he announcedhis decision to his mother, she replied with a question, "Why wouldyou want to become a dentist?" "No one loves a dentist.""Well, you love me don't you Mother," George answered.

George attended two years of high school at Pembina schooland completed his studies at the Lewis Institute in Chicago, Illinois fromwhich he graduated.

After one year of other activities, he enrolled at ValparaiseUniversity in Indiana remaining there for one semester. Following this,he enrolled at Loyola University which had been founded at Chicago, Illinoisin 1869 and was said to be the largest in the city at the time. He was graduatedfrom this institution in 1918 at the age of twenty four years, and in thesame year entered the army where he received his officer's training at Ft.Oglethorpe, Georgia.

Upon completion of this training, he then was commissionedas an officer and assigned to active duty at Camp Dodge, Iowa. After a tourof duty of two years, he was discharged from the service.

Entering private practice, he engaged in his professionfor periods of time at Detroit, Michigan and at Warroad and Baudette inMinnesota. In 1923, he returned to Pembina as he believed that there wasa need for a dentist in that area. He was married that same year so he andhis bride established a home, part of which served as his office. He wassoon able to obtain office space in a building on Main Street from whichlocation he has practiced ever since. He recalls that business was ratherslow at first but soon increased to the point where he had all the patientswhich he would properly attend to. This volume of business continued onthrough his many years of practice due to his reputation as an excellentdentist.

He states that every day has been interesting during hislong career due partly to the variety of people who visit his office fortreatment. Many of these people are friends or acquaintances of long standing.

Now, at the age of seventy eight years, Dr. McConnachieis still active in his work. He is in his office five days a week, as wellas, Thursday evenings.

He still enjoys hunting and says he often plays the pianofor relaxation.

It is worthy of note that Dr. McConnachie's long and worthwhilecareer has earned him the respect of his fellow citizens and should serveas an inspiration to young people who are considering their future career.


McConnachie, George E. Interviewed December 1971, Pembina,ND

Parker, Bertha Morris, Golden Book Encyclopedia; GoldenPress New York, c 1970 p. 412

er, Bertha Morris, Golden Book Encyclopedia; GoldenPress New York, c 1970 p. 412