Travel back 100 years when patients could get a tooth pulled of 50 cents.

By Larry Cohen/Benco Dental Chairman and Chief Customer Advocate

This century-old dental catalog from the Buckeye Dental Supply Co. is my per­sonal equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. (If any readers/archaeologists are in To­ledo, I would love to know if the old Ohio Building still stands.) But rather than of­fering exceptional insight into antiquity, this catalog provides exceptional insight into the early years of dentistry.

Larry Cohen, Chairman and Chief Customer Advocate
Larry Cohen, Chairman and Chief Customer Advocate

Let’s go back 100 years: A dentist could purchase an intri cately carved, sol­id-oak dental cabinet for $70, while an oak roll-top would run $65. Waiting-room chairs – made of oak, of course – cost $13.50 a pop. As for the operatory, $190 would get you a state-of-the-art Ritter pump chair, complete with leather seat and ball-and-socket head rest.

That furniture and dental chair were quality products and sturdily construct­ed – built to last! One glaring exception, however, was the $3 forceps pictured above. These were made of chrome-plated steel – and when the chrome peeled off (and it did soon enough), the rust began in earnest. But then, how much could pa­tients have expected when extractions ran 50 cents a tooth?

LARRY COHEN, Benco Dental’s chairman and chief customer advocate, has over the past half century collected hundreds of unique dental artifacts, which reside at Benco’s world headquarters in Pittston, Pennsylvania. 

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