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Photograph of G.V. Black (left) studying the "Colorado Brown Stain".

Greene Vardiman Black (1836–1915), commonly known as G.V. Black, is known as one of the founders of modern dentistry in the United States. He is also known as the father of operative dentistry. He was born near Winchester, Illinois on August 3, 1836 to William and Mary Black. He spent his early life on a farm and quickly developed an interest in the natural world. By the age of 17, Black began studying medicine with the help of his brother, Dr. Thomas G. Black. In 1857, he met Dr. J.C. Speer, who taught him the practice of dentistry. After the Civil War, in which he served as a union scout, he relocated to Jacksonville, Illinois. It was here that he began an active career and research in the underdeveloped field of dentistry.

He researched many important topics to dentistry, including the best composition for dental amalgams and the cause of dental fluorosis. One of his many inventions was a foot-driven dental drill. He is also known for his principles of tooth preparations, in which he outlines the proper methods to prepare teeth for fillings. The phrase, "extension for prevention," is still famous in the dental community today and represents Black's idea that dentists should incorporate more grooves and pits than those currently exhibiting decay as a preventive measure against those grooves and pits developing tooth decay in the future.

Further, he organized 'Black's Classification of Caries Lesions' which is still in use today. Since that time, only one more category has been added to his classification system.

GV Black Statue in Lincoln Park

Black's Classification of Caries Lesions:

  • Class I Caries affecting pits and fissures on occlusal third of molars and premolars, occlusal two thirds of molars and premolars, and Lingual part of anterior teeth.
  • Class II Caries affecting proximal surfaces of molars and premolars.
  • Class III Caries affecting proximal surfaces of central incisors, lateral incisors, and cuspids without involing the incisal angles.
  • Class IV Caries affecting proximal including incisal angles of anterior teeth.
  • Class V Caries affecting gingival 1/3 of facial or lingual surfaces of anterior or posterior teeth.
  • Class VI (never described by Black, added later by others) Caries affecting cusp tips of molars, premolars, and cuspids.
GV Black Classification of Restorations

G.V. Black was also the second Dean of Northwestern University Dental School, where his portrait hung until the school's closure in 2001. His statue can be found in Chicago's Lincoln Park. He was also inducted in the International Hall of Fame of Dentistry of the Pierre Fauchard Academy on February 25, 1995.[1]



  1. ^ Dr. G.V. Black at PFA Hall of Fame
  2. ^ Dr G.V Black

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greene_Vardiman_Black — Please support Wikipedia.
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7 news items

ChicagoNow (blog)
Tue, 30 Jul 2013 02:56:16 -0700

Who is Greene Vardiman Black? There is a statue of him in Lincoln Park, on North Avenue at Astor Street. IMG_0417. Photo- PV Bella. G.V. Black, as he was known, is considered one of the founders of modern dentistry. He researched many topics in ...
Huffington Post
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:43:14 -0700

Illinois might not have the best business climate these days, but in the past, the state was a breeding ground for groundbreaking inventions and innovation. These inventions from the Land of Lincoln arguably changed the world, obviously some more than ...
Chicago Tribune
Tue, 09 Feb 2010 20:30:26 -0800

He ran straight toward the statue of Greene Vardiman Black, a pioneer of modern dentistry techniques. There, leaning against Black, was Skoff's painting, an acrylic abstract. Thin squiggles of red and blue bounced across the center of the black canvas ...
RedEye Chicago (blog)
Thu, 18 Aug 2011 07:59:25 -0700

Lincoln Park is riddled with statues, some of which are easily identified but there are others you pass by every day without thinking what you're subconsciously thinking, which is, “I wonder who the hell that is?” What did all of these people do to ...
ChicagoNow (blog)
Mon, 09 Aug 2010 07:44:46 -0700

This weekend, prepare for battle during the annual Air & Water show. Because this Saturday at 11:30 am, Chicago's largest organized water gun fight is going to throw down on the south end of Lincoln Park in the area between North Avenue and LaSalle.
24-7PressRelease.com (press release)
Thu, 25 Mar 2010 00:00:00 -0700

Despite the other influential dentists in the United States, Greene Vardiman Black was the leading reformer of American dentistry. Black's accomplishments include: - Publishing a monumental two-volume dissertation, Operative Dentistry, in 1908 that ...
Mon, 13 Jul 2009 00:05:39 -0700

Veel paarkümmend aastat hiljem, 20. sajandi teisel kümnendil, ütles dr Greene Vardiman Black, keda peetakse samuti moodsa hambaarstiteaduse üheks rajajaks, et juhul, kui saaks hamba asendada ning see jääks kasutuskõlblikuks järgmised viis aastat, ...

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