Next time you find yourself staring at the ceiling of your dentist's office think of M. Waldo Hanchett of Syracuse, N.Y. On this date in 1848, Hanchett received a patent for his design of the first dental chair. The chair had a headrest and an adjustable seat that could be adapted to various heights and a back that could be tilted to make the patient more comfortable and to assist the dentist in his work. At one time, tooth extraction and other dental procedures were routinely performed by barbers and others lacking formal training. But by Hanchett's day, dental hygiene was being recognized as an important contribution to general health and well-being.
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