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
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
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
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
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
- Two, two day meetings per annum, aimed at both the general
practitioner and the endodontic teacher.
- Providing a limited number of postgraduate lectures and courses
organised on basic and specialised subjects.
- Using the Journal to actively promote endodontics in the United
- Using the study club to encourage practitioners in the field of
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:
- Teaching groups should be formed, prepared to travel and teach in all
regions of the country.
- An endodontic teacher's workshop should be set up to consider the teaching of
the subject at undergraduate level.
- Joint meetings should be undertaken with other societies.
- 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
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
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
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
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:
- What they considered to be generally accepted endodontic opinion.
- Generally accepted teaching practice.
- The consensus view of their own endodontic opinion and practice.
- 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
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
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
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.
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.
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