One hundred years ago, dentists advertised prices for their work in newspapers. Ads from dentists were found that were placed in different newspapers from around the world on New Year’s Day in 1916. Many of the dental ads were simple. Only a small percentage of people actually had telephones in 1916 and many dentists listed phone numbers in their ads. (Population of U.S. in 1917 was 103.3 million and the number of people who owned phones that same year was 11,716,520, according to a report by the U.S. Dept of Commerce).
Dr. H.O. Hawley of Union Painless Dentists in Fort Wayne, Indiana advertised gold crowns, bridgework and white crowns for $3.00 on Jan. 1, 1916 in the Fort Wayne Sentinel. He also ran another ad with a drawing in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on the same day. His competition, New York Painless Dentists, took out an even larger ad on the same page that day and warned readers to beware of professional jealousy by other dentists. The New York dentists offered gold crowns for $3.00 as well and ran another ad in the Indianapolis Star newspaper the same day with the same prices.
An unnamed dentist in Ogden, Utah listed prices of $1.00 for a filling, gold crowns for $8.00 and bridgework for $5.00 on Jan. 1, 1916 in The Ogden Standard. This was quite a difference in prices from Dr. Hawley who practiced in downtown Chicago who did gold crowns and bridgework for $3.00. This dentist may have been the only one around Ogden at that time so could charge accordingly.
The El Paso Herald had an advertisement for New System Dental Parlors on Jan. 1, 1916 that stated that they would do full sets of teeth for $7.50 and gold crowns for $5.00. The ad said “We are not competing with cheap advertising dentists but with first-class ethical men at one-half their prices.”
In Houston, Texas an ad appeared for a Dr. Sandel in the Houston Post that same day. Dentist Sandel said he would do plates, crowns and bridgework for $5.00 and added that “I have no special prices-same prices always and to every patient.”
The Muskogee Times-Democrat in Oklahoma ran an ad for the New York Dental Parlors on Jan. 1st, 1916 which had prices listed which included gold crowns for $3.50 and up. The dentist running this practice went by the name Dr. L.F. Flamm. New York Dental Parlors seemed to be a chain of dental offices because they were in other places around the country as well.
Dr. Mills in Springfield, Missouri offered to do fillings for 50 cents and up, gold crowns for $3.50, bridgework for $3.50 and plates for $5.00 in The Springfield Republican on Jan. 1, 1916.
In Leavenworth, Kansas a Dr. H.A. McAllister advertised gold crowns, white crowns and bridgework would be done for $4.00. A competitor named American Dental Parlors placed an ad in the same paper that day and said they would do gold crowns for $4.00 – $5.00. Bridge teeth were offered to be done by the American Dental Parlors for $3.00 – $4.00. Most people would likely choose to go with the dentist who had the definite price rather than given and iffy price range unless the work was better at one dental office over the other one.
Another dentist in Kansas, named Dr. Steel, advertised in the Independence Daily Reporter that he did gold crowns for $4.00 and a set of teeth, upper or lower, for $8.00. He was even open from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Sundays and stayed until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Dentists H.L. Johnson and Sons placed a simple ad in the Reading Times in Reading, Pennsylvania on New Year’s Day in 1916. “Our New Year’s wish is that you will be free of teeth trouble, but if you require the services of experienced dentists we are at your command” was the note from the Johnsons to the readers of the newspaper that day.
A Canadian dentist named Dr. W. Clarence Morden advertised in The Winnipeg Tribune in Manitoba that he would do gold crowns for $5.00 at his office on Main Street. He gave his residence address and phone number as well, in his ad. Morden lived the La Clare Hotel on Jan. 1, 1916.
Dentist Brett Anderson was doing his gold crowns for $4.00 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on the same day. His advertisement was placed in the Vancouver Daily World.
Australia had a dentist named Arthur T. Pittar that placed and ad in the Sydney Morning Herald on Jan. 1, 1916 that listed his prices for a full set of dentures for L2/2/. An amalgam filling was priced at 5/ and for amalgam fillings (nerve cases) as 10/5 and 12/6. The pricing was a bit hard to understand in this ad.
Most of the dentists who advertised took out conservative ads with only an address and phone number listed. One dentist named Nelson had a poem published in a section with poems from other business owners.
The ads can all be seen in the slideshow attached to this article.