History of NESP

The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First 30 Years

by Steven I. Gold, D.D.S.

excerpted from Periodontal Case Reports, Volume 12 Number 1, 1990
Northeastern Society of Periodontists

The Northeastern Society of Periodontists celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 1989. The organizational meetings that preceded that formal founding of NESP were held in the offices of Dr. Harold J. Leonard, a pioneer in American periodontal education.

The first specialist training in periodontology became available shortly after the Second World War. Columbia University and New York University, in 1947, offered a one-year program designed to meet the requirements of the then newly formed American Board of Periodontology (organized in 1939). The growing number of specialists, concentrated mainly in the northeast, felt the need to explore the rapidly increasing body of scientific data relating to periodontology more frequently than attendance at national meetings allowed. This led to the formation of the regional and later state organizations that now form the local infrastructure of American periodontology. As the first and, perhaps, best known amongst these organizations, the Northeastern Society of Periodontists is proud to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary.

As a response to the strong belief in the local causes of and preventability of “pyorrhea,” the prophylaxis of oral hygiene movement developed in the United States at the turn of this century. Among the early practitioners of “periodontia” as it was then called were Gillette Hayden, Grace Rodgers Spaulding, John Oppie McCall, Paul Stillman, Isador Hirschfeld, and Harold J. Leonard, all of whom were presidents of the American Academy of Periodontology between 1914 and 1941. Harold J. Leonard was the Chairman of the AAP Committee on Education in 1929 when he recommended the founding of the Journal of Periodontology.

Dr. Leonard remained active in periodontal education throughout his life. He practiced in the Squibb building in New York. He was one of the driving forces in the founding of NESP. The early meetings were held in his office and the offices of Leonard Hirschfeld. The organizational meeting that preceded the formal founding of the organization was held at the Shelburne Hotel in New York City and was attended by Harold Leonard, Irwin Scopp, Abram Chasens, Norman Alderman, George Whinston, and Ira Ross. The first membership chairman was Charles Berman.

The organization had a charter, seal and constitution by 1960. The certificate of incorporation lists the directors as H. J. Leonard, G. J. Witkin, I. W. Scopp, G. J. Whinston, and N. E. Alderman. The first program chairman was Bernard Wasserman and the meeting in 1959 was held at New York University, with lunch at the Gramercy Park Hotel.

The speakers at the first meeting were Dr. Howard Schneider of the Rockefeller Institute, who was editor of one of the Annals of the New York Academy of Science — on the subject of Natural Resistance to Disease. Harry Bleckman spoke on the microbiology of periodontal disease in the afternoon session.

The fall seminar in 1960 was held on Friday, November 4. Sigmund Stahl was the program chairman, and the speakers included Irwin Mandel, D. Walter Cohen, Irving Glickman, and Leonard Hirschfeld. The assays ranged from carbohydrate-protein content of saliva and calculus to healing following mucogingival surgery. The lunch-time speaker was Isador Hirschfeld, who spoke on “Reflections of an Era in Periodontics.”

The 1966 Constitution and By-Laws states “there shall be an annual meeting in the spring of each year … special meeting may be called by the Board of Directors.” In 1976, the scientific meetings were increased to two a year, one to be held in the spring, the other in the fall. Irwin Scopp, who was recently honored by the NESP for 30 years of service as Secretary of the organization, served in that post from the founding of the NESP until 1989.

An early edition of the Constitution and By-Laws states the purpose of the organization: “The purposes for which the organization is formed are to promote scientific research in, and to disseminate information regarding the art and science of Periodontics. The sphere of activity shall primarily encompass the Northeastern area of the country.”

In the late 1960s, the Northeastern Society of Periodontists established a fund to endow a medal in memory of Isador Hirschfeld, a pioneer in the field of periodontology. This was called the Isador Hirschfeld Award Medal and honors those members who have made contributions to the advancement of periodontology through dental research, dental education, and the periodontal literature, and, in addition, performed outstanding service to the profession and to the Society.

In 1979, Periodontal Case Reports, a publication of the Northeastern Society of Periodontists, was founded. Dr. Alan Winter was the founding Editor. The current editors of the journal are Dr. Vincent Iacono and Dr. Paul Baer. A panel of educators and clinicians serve as contributing consultants. In 1980, Periodontal Case Reports was awarded the Golden Pen Certificate of Merit from the International College of Dentists.

The outstanding role of the NESP in periodontal education will continue throughout the 21st Century.