You can thank Levin Dawson Caulk that your cavity fillings are not made of beeswax or plaster of paris.
Once you hear his surname, it’s not hard to forget his contribution to dental progress. Caulk was born in 1841 in Camden, DE, where he grew up. As a young dentist, he practiced in Wilmington for a time, taught and practiced in St. Louis, and then moved back to Camden. He began to shift from dentistry to dental product manufacturing in 1877, when he launched L. D. Caulk Dental Depot in Camden. He started with tooth cleansers, which he concocted out of his house.
In 1885 he opened the L.D. Caulk Company in Milford, where he began to manufacture tooth filling alloys such as gutta-percha (purified, coagulated latex from trees of the genera Palaquium in Malaysia), amalgam (a paste made from mercury and silver), and cement.
Caulk had earlier learned his cement recipe from Dr. A.J. Funk, who left his Wilmington dental practice to join Caulk in Milford, where the two partners improved the new company’s products.
L.D. Caulk Company products were transported via horse and buggy to dental product retail stores in the mid-Atlantic area, and as transportation methods improved, the firm’s products were shipped across the country, and eventually across the world. Dr. Caulk passed away in 1895, and the business was purchased by the Grier family, which was continuously involved in the business until the mid-1990s. DENTSPLY International bought the company in 1963 and is now the largest professional dental products company in the world with facilities in 22 nations on six continents.