Dr. Beverly B. McCollum is considered the "Father of Gnathology." Dr. Harvey Stallard, an orthodontist, proposed the word Gnathology. It is derived from "Gnathos," meaning jaw and "ology," meaning study of, or knowledge of.
In 1924, Dr. McCollum discovered the first positive method of locating the Hinge Axis, a milestone in dental research. He founded the Gnathological Society in 1926. McCollum and the Gnathological Society's definition of Gnathology is as follows: Gnathology is the Science that treats the biologics of the masticating mechanisms; that is, the morphology, anatomy, histology, physiology, pathology and the therapeutics of the oral organ, especially the jaws and teeth and the vital relations of the organ to the rest of the body."
In 1927, Harvey Stallard recognized that the teeth dictate the arc of closure and the occluded position of the mandible. If articulators were to be used to reveal mal-occluded teeth, then "interocclusal records" would be needed to mount the casts in the centric relation position. Proprioceptors from the teeth were dictating to the muscles, and this feedback had to be dealt with. Interocclusal registrations solved the problem. Since these registrations were taken at a slightly opened position, the Hinge Axis of the mandible must have been accurately located.
In 1930, Dr. Charles Stuart and Dr. McCollum developed the first semi-adjustable articulator called the McCollum Gnathoscope.
By 1933, Stuart was the leader in the McCollum group. He was doing everything from improving techniques, to learning principles, to inventing and designing. He invented a frictionless jaw-writing device for recording mandibular movement with styli on plates outside the face.
In 1934, with the aid of Dr. Stuart, McCollum produced the first mandibular movement recorder known as the McCollum Gnathograph.
Also in 1934, at the U.S.C. Alumni meeting, Dr. Stuart demonstrated his mandibular movement recorder. It differed from today's recorder in that it anteriorly had a sagittal plate with a horizontal stylus. It would record the entire capacity of mandibular movements. These movements were later described by Posselt, as the "Envelope of Motion." The night after the presentation Stuart realized, while driving home, that he could make a recording apparatus, put it on the patient, record the mandibular movements, transfer to the articulator and then set the articulator. He created this and demonstrated it at the Pacific Coast Dental Conference in 1935 at Long Beach, California. This resulted in a surge of interest in the new Science of Gnathology.
In 1939, McCollum and Stuart published A Research Report, the result of 14 years of study. It was also intended to give full credit to those members of the Gnathological Society who had devoted so much of their time and money to the development of this new science.
Dr. Everitt Payne was also a member of the original Gnathological Society. He worked as McCollum's lab technician to laboriously achieve bilateral balanced occlusions in wax. He knew all the tricks of the trade in making excellent castings. His knowledge of tooth morphology was unparalleled. Everitt was the man who invented the wax addition technique we use today. He modified dental hand instruments and reshaped them to meet his needs to properly handle wax. With some slight modification, they are known today as the PKT waxing instruments.
Dr. McCollum suffered a massive stroke in 1949 and was unable to continue his active life in dentistry.
After the war, Dr. Stuart resumed his research in Dentistry. After McCollum's stroke, there was no one left to actively teach Gnathology. Dr. Dave Shooshan of Pasadena encouraged Stuart to finish his production of his articulator and his recorder. "If you don't," he said, "the whole idea of Gnathology will die." Many dentists contributed to the manufacture of about 40 articulators and a few less recorders and face-bows in 1955.
Dr. Stuart and Dr. Stallard worked together to teach "organic occlusion." They gave us the determinants of occlusal morphology and renewed an interest in Gnathological principals.
Dr. Stuart often said that he had stolen the wax-addition technique from Everitt Payne and the cusp-fossa occlusion from the Good Lord to come up with Organic Occlusions. He was not comfortable in the role of teaching in the 50's as in, one who lectures. Hands on, one on one or demonstrations of his inventions were more to his liking. Several people started lecturing about Gnathology, as interest was overwhelming. Dr. Ray Contino was one of the first. He was followed by Peter K. Thomas, who taught the principles of Gnathology to study groups all over the world. He was considered the "Ambassador of Excellent Dentistry."
As the word spread there were many eager dentists from the United States and abroad who became involved and came to learn from the masters. They, in turn, would invite the masters to come to their countries to give courses.
In the early sixties, Gnathology had gained such a following that it was decided to hold an International meeting in Mexico City, Mexico.
The first Congress of the International Academy of Gnathology was held at the Hotel Maria Isabella in Mexico City on April 16-19, 1964. It was organized with the Mexican group by Dr. and Mrs. Chuck Eller. The Mexican Gnathological Group, later to become the Latin Section, hosted the meeting. Dr. Carlos Ripol, Dr. Erik Martinez Ross, Dr. Raul Espinosa De La Sierra and Dr. Fernando Robledo each acted as host for a day or "Presidente of the Day."
The reason Mexico City was chosen to host the first meeting was because its university was the first institution of learning to start a course in Gnathology.
The next meeting was in San Diego in 1965, at the Town and Country Hotel. It was from September 23-26. The registration fee was $75.00. Headliners of the 1965 meeting other than Stallard, Stuart and Gus Swab were P.K. Thomas, Bert Webrect, Victor Lucia, George Simpson, Jack Swepston, Harry Lundeen, Arthur Kahn, Frank Celenza and Evan Moore. Since that meeting the International Academy has met every odd numbered year.
The formal discussions were made in the mornings by lectures and the afternoons were devoted to table clinics where informal discussions were plentiful.
Harvey Stallard and Bob Mercer handled the scientific program while Chuck and Gloria Eller handled all meeting arrangements. The days were busy and the evenings elaborate.
Dr. Chuck Eller and his wife Gloria had the monumental task of organizing and handling all the meetings and functions from 1964 until 1995. Chuck served as President of the American Section from 1973 until his resignation in 1997.
The influence of Vic Lucia, Frank Celenza, Ernie Granger, and Arthur Kahn from the Northeastern Gnathological Group convinced the officers of the Academy that the meeting in 1969 should be held in New York City. The B. B. McCollum Award was born at this meeting. Doctors Eller and Ripol designed the medallion. The first recipient was Dr. Harvey Stallard. This meeting was to be the only time a Congress was held anywhere but the West Coast until the 1997 meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The 1999 meeting was at "The Cloister" in Sea Island, Georgia and the 2001 meeting was in Seattle, Washington. The meeting venues thereafter have been:
The "Science of Gnathology" has grown throughout the world. The parent organization of the International Academy of Gnathology is "The American Section." The other sections are comprised of The European Section, The Asian Section, The Latin Section and The Australian Section. This worldwide representation provides an international brotherhood of dental professionals practicing and teaching the disciplines of Gnathology and assures that it remains "Dentistry's Handclasp Around the World."