Charles Gaine (1827-1914)

Gaine was born in 1827 in Ludlow, Shropshire. He completed an apprenticeship in dentistry. He claimed in advertisements in the Bath Hereford newspapers to have been a pupil of Thomas Bell, dental Surgeon to Guy’s Hospital but the fee was £500, equilvalent to £36,500 and it is unknown how he could have afforded this sum as the son of a.commercial traveller, although Gaine was well educated. Gaine completed his apprenticeship without gaining any qualification but this was not unusual at the time.

By 1865 Gaine was working for William Wood, a prominent dentist in Brighton. While there Gaine became interested in the regulation of the teeth and starting treating patients with regulation screws, the first in the UK to do so. This impressed Wood and according to Gaine “considered the process and the results sufficiently novel and important to be illustrated by models and plates which were accepted for, and their merits acknowledged at the exhibition of 1851.” This was the Great International Exhibition held at Crystal Palace in 1851.

Gaine described his screw in a letter to John Nutting Farrer in December 1886 along with a scotch of the appliance. This appliance used two types of simple screw. In another letter to Farrer, Gaine notes that he is using vulcanite for his base plates. Gaine did not claim to be the inventor of the orthodontic screw. He only claims that it was more effective that other contemporary methods of treatment at the time. Orthodontic screws had already been described. Nay J.M. Alexis Schange who published his textbook in France in 1842.

Drawing of Gaine’s appliance taken from John Nutting Farrer’s 1888 book ‘A treatise on the irregularities of the test and their correction’

Gaine left Wood’s practice after Woods had insisted on having his name put on the appliances exhibited at the Great Exhibition. Gaine established his own practice in Ludlow although in 1856 he moved to Bath and commuted to Ludlow until 1868.

In August 1856 Gaine started advertising in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette. Gradually Gaine reduced his practice in Ludlow and moved to Bath.

In April 1858 Gaine published a textbook entirely devoted to orthodontics titled ‘On Irregularities of the Teeth’. In April 1858 his advertisements included mention of his book, priced at one shilling.

The book consisted of 32 pages. The first 15 were devoted to general principles of orthodontic treatment used by Gaine. The last 7 pages were dedicated to descriptions of 4 cases treated with orthodontic screws.

Gaine achieved his MRCS in 1862. In 1865 he became Assistant Surgeon at the General Hospital Bath, a post he held until 1899. In this role Gaine undertook significant oral surgery. He also became Assistant Surgeon to the 2nd Somerset Militia which was then based in Bath.

In 1871 Gaine joined the Odontological Society of Great Britain. He was also involved in the British Medical Association and became Branch President in 1886. Through his work and publications he became a member of the Dental Reform Committee whose efforts would lead to the 1878 Dentists Act, although he resigned in 1877 when the exclusive rights of the Fellows and Members of the College if Surgeons to practice dentistry were denied as Gaine bellowed that dentistry should remain a speciality of surgery and not became a separate profession.

In 1868 Gaine married Adele Bridges Smith. Gaine died on 14th December 1914.