BES History

How it all started

The British Endodontic Society was formed in 1963 to promote the interchange of ideas on all aspects of pulp and root canal treatment especially in general dental practice. The impetus for its establishment came from Dr. Hans Orlay, who wrote to the Editor of the British Dental Journal on June 19th 1962, inviting colleagues to contact him to discuss such a venture. As a result of the letter nine men met and decided that such a Society should be inaugurated.

The Society was formally established during a meeting held at 13, Hill Street, London, W1 on Wednesday 16th January 1963. There were 60 requests for membership and Dr. Orlay duly became the first President. The Society was one of the first to recognise its national role by establishing annual provincial meetings, the first of which was held at the Dental School and Hospital in Leeds.

The Journal of the British Endodontic Society

The newly formed Society published proceedings of its meetings in the Dental Practitioner magazine, courtesy of a kindly editor, but delays in publication led to the creation of a Society newsletter to inform members in a more timely fashion. However lengthy delays were not avoided and the President of the day and instigator of the newsletter, Mr. John Forrest expressed concern that that too much original work was being held back too long and that the development of ideas was being hindered.

In the spring of 1967 the first edition of the Journal of the British Endodontic Society was published, under the editorial oversight of Professor Jack Rowe and Mr. John Forrest. The first edition included a meeting report in which Dr. Angelo Sargenti had addressed the Society on the use of N2 in root canal treatment.

The Journal was well received with messages of support from Cottrell and Co. and advertising from dental companies such as Cardozo Ltd; promoting E.D.T.A. with Cetrimid; and book sellers Henry Kimpton who offered Endodontics by John Ingle and Endodontic Practice by Louis Grossman for sale. International interest in both the Society, its meetings and its Journal grew rapidly.

In the second issue of the Journal, the BES President, Dr. Maxwell Saunders, noted that the Society was enjoying healthy growth. An editorial singled out Mr. Maurice Rothschild, the Honorary Secretary for his efforts in identifying good speakers from around the world. Dr. Yury Kuttler of Mexico accepted an invitation to speak at the April 1967 meting. This issue was printed by letter press rather than the offset-litho process to enable illustrations and radiographs to be reproduced more clearly. The publisher was Henry Evans and Co.

In May 1967 the Society held a joint symposium with the Metropolitan Branch of the BDA. The meeting was very well attended and it was generally agreed that awareness of endodontic procedures was growing within the UK general dental establishment. Further editions provided continued momentum, emphasising the use of rubber dam, better radiography and instrument use to improve standards and avoid litigation for procedural problems. Editorials addressed political and service related issues, including the lack of younger dentists wishing to join the Society, problems with Health Service endodontic provision, failings within undergraduate endodontic training, limited access to postgraduate training, and the ideal length of canal preparation/desirability of penetrating the apical foramen. A report was also carried out in 1968 on the General Dental Council's proposal to register specialists in dental disciplines. An editorial by the 1968 President Maurice Rothschild, suggested that one of the purposes of a specialist society was to lay down guidelines for clinical practice, with the recognition of a need for treatment guidelines in endodontics.

At this time, this was the only endodontic journal published in the English language. It was issued free to all members of the Society, who in 1968 paid an annual subscription of two guineas(£2.2.0.). Financial pressures were recognised even in the early days, with a backlog of articles awaiting publication and a need to address the backlog by purchasing additional print pages. Members were asked to actively recruit colleagues and to promote the Society and its Journal.

The Journal went from strength to strength and continued to publish current research, abstracts from other journals and reviewed the newest textbooks of the day.

An Expanding and Innovating Society

The Society continued to hold meetings both in London and in the provinces, with venues including Leeds, The Lake District, Norwich, Bristol, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Chester-le-Street, Stratford-on Avon, Manchester, Brighton, Glasgow, Cardiff, Dublin, Swansea, Chichester, Oxford, York, Harrogate, Bournemouth, Guernsey, Jersey, Winchester, Scarborough, Torquay, Chester, Edinburgh, Sutton Coldfield, Bath and Liverpool.

In 1970, Mr. Maurice Rothschild reported on an excellent presentation to a Provincial meeting held in Cardiff, when Professor Norman Butler had lectured on "Apical Debridement Techniques" using two projectors simultaneously.

The Journal reported regularly on meetings of the American Association of Endodontists, and its letters page became a popular forum for the exchange of views on recently published research. The greater size of the American Association of Endodontists was acknowledged with the recognition that this may reflect a greater private sector market in the U.S.A. than the UK. The BES continued to discuss the prospect of specialisation within the UK but felt that this was unlikely to occur for some time. The Society was however represented on the Joint Committee for Higher Training in Dentistry.

The problem of good clinical research and obtaining enough clinical cases for research was discussed in other editorials. The value of good planning and perhaps multi-centre approaches was also discussed.

The Birth of Implant Dentistry

A further editorial in 1970 discussed the activities of various Implant Societies and the growing use of endosseuos implants. An editorial suggested "screwing of a tooth support" into the edentulous space would be an ideal solution to replace a missing tooth, avoiding the preparation of adjacent teeth to construct a bridge. There was much discussion on the types of implants available and the recent evidence that bone had been demonstrated to form against the surface of one type of implant.

Some Highlights from the 1970's

In 1971, an editorial reported on a Dental Trade Show in Munich that was incorporated into a dental meeting, suggesting that such a model would be a welcome development for future BES meetings.

In 1972, an enlarged issue of the Journal was published to celebrate the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community. It was hoped that this union would bring the Journal to the attention of new readers in the Continental Europe.

In 1973 there was a report on a successful collection of table clinics presented at the Annual Provincial Meeting in Oxford. The meeting also disclosed that due to a reorganisation of the publisher, the Society had been offered the copyright of the Journal. A decision was made to acquire the Journal and assume greater responsibility for it's publication for the future publication.

In 1974, the American Association of Endodontists, the American Dental Society of Europe and the British Endodontic Society held a joint meeting in London on 30th-31st June.

In 1975, the inaugural meeting of the British Endodontic Society Study Club was held at the Columbia Club, Lancaster Gate, London. It was hoped that further study clubs would be established outside London to continue this idea.

Also in 1975, the Journal of the British Endodontic Society welcomed a second English language publication in endodontics, with the first edition of the Journal of the Endodontics. The BES expressed a wish that the new journal would neither be parochial nor doctrinaire and that material published would reflect a liberal approach to the subject.

In the same year, the new President Mr. Fred Harty reviewed the first twelve years of the Society and reported that it was active in the following fields:

  1. Two, two day meetings per annum, aimed at both the general practitioner and the endodontic teacher.
  2. Providing a limited number of postgraduate lectures and courses organised on basic and specialised subjects.
  3. Using the Journal to actively promote endodontics in the United Kingdom.
  4. Using the study club to encourage practitioners in the field of endodontics.

Mr. Harty wrote to all the previous Presidents of the Society to gauge their opinion on formulating both a short and long term policy for and future aims of the Society. There was a great deal of debate amongst them at this time as to whether the Society should remain as a separate entity or merge with another branch of dentistry. There were advocates of both but no agreement was reached on which branch of dentistry endodontics was closest to. Dentistry in the Americas was noted to have moved towards recognising specialisation in endodontics but the predominant opinion within the Society at the time was that endodontics was too narrow a subject to exist on its own. Concern was expressed that if a speciality was established, it might theoretically be possible for a young graduate to become a "specialist" without knowing what dentistry was all about.

It was agreed that in order to fulfil the original aims of the Society, the following action was needed:

  1. Teaching groups should be formed, prepared to travel and teach in all regions of the country.
  2. An endodontic teacher's workshop should be set up to consider the teaching of the subject at undergraduate level.
  3. Joint meetings should be undertaken with other societies.
  4. The Society should become more active in the investigation and assessment of new materials and techniques.

In 1976 there was a joint two day joint meeting of the British Endodontic Society and the British Society for Restorative Dentistry held at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

The Journal of the British Endodontic Society under BES Control

The Journal had come under complete control of the Society in 1973 after a reorganisation of the publishers, Evans and Co. During this time the Society was offered the copyright of the Journal and chose to acquire it and assume responsibility for its publication. The Editor of the Journal at this time was Dr. Richard Johns with Professor Jack Rowe as Consultant Editor.

Significant changes to the journal format quickly followed, including an expansion of the abstracts section to expose readers to important developments in other journals and areas of research. It was noted that the task of writing these précis had fallen on colleagues within the Society and a debt of gratitude was noted. Further stylistic alterations were included to improve readability and facilitate the marking of interesting articles by readers.

In 1977 the subscription to the British Endodontic Society was £5 per annum, which included 2 issues of the Journal. Back numbers were also available on request as well as bound copies.

In 1978 the first workshop on the teaching of Endodontics in the Dental Schools of the United Kingdom and Ireland was held at the Eastman Dental Hospital, London on 17th-18th October.

In 1979 the Society decided to adopt its own badge to be used on notepaper certificates and presentation plaques. It was noted at the time that the council were divided on this issue and members were offered a prize of £20 to design such a badge.

An annual student essay prize was also established for undergraduates with a first prize of £100 and a second one of £50 for the best essay on a chosen topic.

In 1979 The Greater London Endodontic Study Club meeting was held in Sardinia with Mr. Fred Harty as principal speaker. The meeting was held at the Hotel Residence Park on the Costa Smeralda and cost £165, including flights from Gatwick by British Caledonian.

Blackwell Scientific Publications

By the end of 1979, a number of issues arose that led to changes in the format of the Journal. Hobbs of Southampton, a small family printing firm, decided that the high technical demands of publication precluded them from continuing with production. An editorial at the time praised them for their punctual and meticulous preparation of each of the six volumes of the journal they had produced.

Blackwell Scientific Publications Limited of Oxford, a publishing house of international repute was approached to take on the role. The Society recognised the immense work of the former Editor Dr. Richard Johns who had been responsible not only for the editing manuscripts between 1975 and 1979 but also for the routine day to day tasks which were necessary for Journal publication. The arrangement with Blackwells included access to a sub-editorial team who would take over the "mechanical functions" of the Editor and much of the day to day administration.

As the Society developed and expanded, it became increasingly obvious that it was beginning to take on a more international role and that in order to fulfil this role the Journal needed to expand. The International membership of the Society was also now greater than the U.K. membership.

Taking all this into account, during the Presidency of Dr. John Lilley, the Journal was re-launched as the International Endodontic Journal. It was hoped that the change in title would reflect these changes and that the content of the journal would continue to appeal to both specialist endodontists and general practitioners.

The first edition of the International Endodontic Journal was published in 1980, with Mr. Fred Harty as Honorary Editor, Dr. Tom Pitt-Ford as Honorary Assistant Editor and Professor Jack Rowe the Consultant Honorary Editor. The editorial board was enlarged to include representatives from Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United States of America. Negotiations were begun to make the International Endodontic Journal the official publication of other Endodontic Societies as well as that of the British Endodontic Society.

An editorial in 1980 congratulated and gave thanks to the foresight of the President John Lilley and the Council of the British Endodontic Society for allowing these great changes to take place.

These changes led to the Journal prospering greatly. Further sections were added to the Journal and eventually four editions of the journal were published each year. The Journal gradually became adopted as the official Journal of a number of International Societies and at the time of writing, more than twenty endodontic societies enjoy affiliation with it.

The British Endodontic Society goes from strength to strength

The British Endodontic Society also continued to prosper, maintaining its traditions of two meetings per year and attracting presentations from the most renowned experts in the field.

In 1981, the BES commissioned a survey to examine how root canal treatment was performed by dentists in England. A questionnaire was sent to 3000 registered dentists working in both NHS, private and salaried positions and selected at random in nine geographical areas and the Armed Forces. The response rate was however low at 930 useable replies. Although the report cautioned generalizing the findings of the report the findings were a useful insight into the practice of endodontics in the UK at the time.

In 1982, the Annual General Meeting of the BES instructed the Council to convene a Working Party to produce a set of basic endodontic guidelines. A working party was set up consisting of Professor A.H.R. Rowe, Mr. C. Stock, Dr. K. Ahlberg, Mr. J. Webber and Mr. B. Leigh. In formulating the guidelines, the Working Party took into account the following factors:

  1. What they considered to be generally accepted endodontic opinion.
  2. Generally accepted teaching practice.
  3. The consensus view of their own endodontic opinion and practice.
  4. Trends in current endodontic literature.

In March of 1983 the A.G.M accepted the guidelines and released them to members of the Society. It was also agreed that the findings should be published generally. The guidelines received widespread approval from schools and practitioners alike.

Joint meetings also continued with other societies, such as in 1982, when the Society arranged a joint Regional two day meeting with the British Paedodontic Society in Bournemouth.

In 1983 the British Endodontic Society introduced a new logo to be used on all official stationary and based on the international symbols for root canal instruments.

The European Society of Endodontology

In 1983 the first meeting of a newly formed European Society of Endodontology took place in Venice, Italy on 14th-16th October with the theme "Endodontics in Europe". There were twelve member nations at the outset and membership of the new Society (through country representatives) was open to all registered medical and dental practitioners. The aim was to promote and advance the study and practice of endodontics in order to benefit the public. Meetings were to be held every two years. The first meeting attracted over 250 dentists with 28 speakers from 10 countries. Members of the British Endodontic Society were involved in the formation of this new Society and had considerable influence on its development. The first BES representative to the new Society from the British Endodontic Society was Mr. Chris Stock.

In 1986 the International Endodontic Journal increased its publications to six issues per year and it was noted that its readership had continued to increase.

Silver Jubilee Celebrations

In 1988 the British Endodontic Society celebrated its silver jubilee. At the Spring Scientific Meeting in London in March, the celebrations commenced with the installation of the 25th President, Mr, Issadore Geffner from Newcastle. Festivities continued at the regional meeting in Newcastle, when all the past Presidents (with the exception of Dr Hans Orlay who had sadly died in 1985) were assembled. It was recorded that the Society had continued to appeal to general dental practitioners and had not tried to become an exclusive group of specialists. Note was also made that when the Society was established in 1963, the practice of endodontics in the UK was limited, and though pulp treatment in molars was not uncommon, it was often performed with formaldehyde pastes following little or no root canal instrumentation.

Worthy triumphs of the Society had included success in pressing for changes in the payments to NHS General Practitioners for root fillings, relating payment to the type of tooth rather than the former blanket categories of vital and septic. It continued to press for an alteration of the fee structure to promote the quality of endodontic provision in the NHS.

Society membership had grown to nearly 500.

Specialisation in the UK

An Editorial at the time predicted that British universities would soon commence postgraduate training courses leading to MSc degrees for those wishing to specialise, and the emergence of endodontic specialist practices throughout Britain. It noted that although specialisation had been established in the U.S.A. for 25 years, such a development would take time to emerge in the UK.

In 1990, the IEJ New Editor, Mr. Kishor Gulabivala reported from the Regional Meeting in Winchester on a paper delivered by Mr. Fred Harty on specialisation in Endodontics. Mr. Harty presented arguments for and against the establishment of a specialist register and a lively discussion followed. Mr. Harty considered that the establishment of such a register could take at least ten years to implement in order to build up an appropriate infrastructure, including methods of higher training and assessment. This would require cooperation between the relevant parties, including general practitioners, universities, Royal Colleges and the General Dental Council. The overwhelming mood of the meeting was in favour of a specialist register.

In 1991 the International Endodontic Journal reported on the first successful candidates to complete an MSc degree in Endodontics from the University of London.

In 1991 the new President, Mr. Tony Hoskinson reflected in an Editorial on the first Endodontic Workshop held at the Eastman Dental Hospital in 1978. He noted that a recent survey by the British Endodontic Society recorded that techniques advocated at that workshop were now being taught in all dental school in the United Kingdom. It was felt that consideration should be given to another such workshop.

That same year, Dr Tom Pitt-Ford published an article in the IEJ on the process of establishing a postgraduate training course in endodontics and Mr Kishor Gulabivala published on the course he had set up at the Eastman Dental Hospital.

In 1992 the President Dr. Elizabeth Saunders noted that the British Endodontic Society had responded to the Consultation Paper on Specialisation by the General Dental Council and awaited its findings. It was noted that the Society had been in discussion with the Surgical Royal Colleges in setting up a Membership examination in Restorative Dentistry for prospective specialists.

In an active year for the Society, it was noted that the Society was attracting younger members and that pressure from the BES had led to the removal of root canal treatment of permanent teeth in younger children from the NHS capitation scheme. The format of the International Endodontic Journal was also changed to A4 size and an attractive new cover was also revealed.

In 1993 The British Endodontic Society hosted the 6th Biennial Congress of the European Endodontology Society held in London on 11th-13th November. Mr. Tony Hoskinson presided as Conference Chair and ESE President.

In 1993, the President Dr. David Cohen announced that the Society would introduce three new awards in the field of research and education in addition to the existing Harty Medal and prize. The first award would be to Vocational Trainees for the best case presentation involving endodontics, an undergraduate prize for the best elective prize in the field of endodontics, and grants up to £1000 for postgraduate research.

In 1996 the IEJ Editor Bill Saunders announced a special student rate to encourage new members to join the Society.

In 2001, the then President Stephen Day and BES Council launched the Society's first website. This was to contain information about the Society, details of forthcoming events for dental professionals and also helpful information for the general public about endodontics. More recently, the website has been updated to further enhance this and include additional features.

IEJ Editors

A succession of distinguished UK professors has served the IEJ as Editor: Professor. Tom Pitt Ford (1983-1991), Professor William Saunders (1991-1998) and Professor Paul Dummer (1988-present). The Journal is now published monthly, and includes review mini review, original scientific and clinical articles in an effort to serve its broad church of readers. On-line access gives readers the opportunity to view the latest research "on-line early" to benefit from additional material and features not published in hard copy, and the potential to search for full-text articles right back to 1967. The scope of the Journal is greater than ever before with approximately 400 original submissions per year, a mammoth task for a small editorial team. In an effort to promote quality and manage the workload, the journal has recently established a Deputy Editor-in-Chief, presently Dr John Whitworth, and a panel of subject-specific Associate Editors, all of whom are in turn establishing expert panels of referees. The Journal had risen consistently in international ranking and currently stands 8th out of 51 Journals in Dentistry, Oral Surgery and Oral Medicine, with a citation index of 2.150.

40 Year Celebrations

The British Endodontic Society celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2003. The then President, Professor Tom Pitt-Ford welcomed a large group of members to The Crown Plaza Hotel in Liverpool on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th October. The title of the meeting was "Turning Endodontic failure into Success - Endodontic retreatment" and table clinic presenters included Dr. Bunsan Chong, Mr. Chris Emery, Dr. Eeva Lavonius, Dr. Eva Siren, Mr. Andrew Powell-Cullingford, Dr. Geoff Seccombe and Mr. Bill Seddon. The speakers for meeting were Dr. Elizabeth Saunders, Professor William Saunders, Dr. John Rhodes, Mr. Simon Cunnington, Dr. Tony Hoskinson and Mr. Kishor Gulabivala.

In 2007 the Society joined with three other dental societies for a Pan Society meeting held in Birmingham on 16th-17th November.

During its existence the British Endodontic Society has had a long line of distinguished Presidents and many members have served on the council in various roles, each bringing their own uniqueness and dedication to the role. Additionally, the Society could not have functioned without assistance from its former Administration Secretary Mrs. Di Stock and the present one Mrs. Annabel Thomas.

Present Day

As the British Endodontic Society moves towards its 50th Anniversary in 2013 the Society is in excellent shape with a growing membership. The Society continues to promote endodontology at undergraduate level by sponsoring prizes and at postgraduate level by providing research grants of various amounts. It also has prizes for poster abstracts on new research undertaken in the United Kingdom. The meetings continue to be well attended attracting speakers from across the globe. The Society is also represented on many influential academic boards that define the principles and policies of endodontics in this country and beyond.

As an influential and well respected Society it continues to adapt to future challenges within the field of endodontics whilst continuing with the original ideals laid down when it was first conceived in 1963.