William Gibson Arlington Bonwill

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William Gibson Arlington Bonwill

William Gibson Arlington Bonwill (born October 4, 1833 in Camden ( Delaware ), † September 24, 1899 in Philadelphia , ( Pennsylvania )) was an American dentist and researcher. The Bonwill triangle is named after him.


Bonwill was born to WM Bonwill, a general practitioner. He finished his studies in dentistry at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in 1866 and then studied medicine at Jefferson Medical College . In October 1854 he set up his own practice in Dover , Delaware . He practiced there until 1871, when he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1885 he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society . On September 24, 1899, Bonwill died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia of sepsis from prostate surgery that had caused acute cystitis and chronic nephritis .


Bonwill spent his life developing dentistry. To this day, the findings of this dental research are associated with his name. In addition, he made inventions in completely different areas that made him famous among experts of his time, such as combine harvesters for wheat harvest , kerosene lamps , kettles, lighters and much more. He had some of his inventions patented.

Bonwill triangle

Bonwill triangle of the lower jaw body (mandible)

He examined 4,000 lower jaw of corpses and another 6,000 from living people and found that the distance between the condyles (joint head) four inches and the distance between each condyle and the contact point of the two lower central incisors, the incisal point of the mandible (lower jaw) , corresponds. The latter is also called the symphysis point. These three points form an equilateral triangle that does not change throughout life. Bonwill presented these findings to the dental public in 1864 during a session of the Delaware Dental Society . This triangle has since than Bonwill Triangle ( Engl. : Bonwill triangle ) received in the scientific literature. He also concluded from his findings that the dimensions of the teeth and other skull bones, and even the entire body, are constantly related to the length of the sides of this triangle. From this he postulated that as soon as the dimensions of a tooth are known, conclusions can be drawn about the entire skeleton .

Bonwill articulator

After preliminary work by Daniel Evans (1840) and as a result of his jaw measurements, Bonwill developed the first above-average Bonwill articulator in 1864 , a device for simulating the movements of the temporomandibular joint for the production of dentures . For this purpose, plaster models of the dental arches of the upper and lower jaw are mounted in occlusion in the articulator. It was Bonwill who coined the term articulation and replaced the older term occlusion. His principle was subsequently used in almost all articulators that were further developed. He is known as the architect of “balanced occlusion” and “three-point contact”.

Gold hammer filling

In 1867 he developed an electromagnetic hammer with which gold leaf could be used as a filling material for a tooth for a gold hammer filling , and had it patented in 1873. In November 1875 he was honored for this work with the Elliott Cresson Medal , the highest award of the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia. He expanded the technique for condensing of amalgam in the laying of amalgam fillings .

Anesthetic procedure

Lower partial denture with Bonwill clasp (left)

He also propagated a method of anesthesia for minor surgical interventions, during childbirth and for dental interventions through forced breathing of the patient ( hyperventilation ). To do this, the patient has to take 80-100 breaths per minute. It was under the title 1875 The air of anaestetic (The air an anesthetic) presented at the Franklin Institute.

Bonwill bracket

Bonwill invented a bracket named after him for attaching a partial denture to existing teeth. The Bonwill brace is a support bracket - by combining two double arm brackets with support to form a bracket - that includes two adjacent teeth. The advantage of the Bonwill bracket is that, unlike a one-armed bracket, there is no tilting force on the tooth.

Bonwill Dental Engine

His inventive spirit also led to the construction of a foot drilling machine for dental interventions. It was first used in the field of oral surgery by the founder of oral surgery in the USA , James Garretson .


  • Erich Göhler, Bonwill and his services to the development of dentistry , medical dissertation., Leipzig, 1926, Glashütte i. S., (1925)
  • Süleyman Hulusi Gündog, Investigations into the angular relationships between the occlusal plane and the face plane. Subnasal, arbitrary joint axis as a reference plane in the rehabilitation of the masticatory organ, as well as the geometric relationships of the so-called Bonwill triangle , (1978)
  • Norbert Schwenzer, Dental, Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine - Volume 3, Prosthetics and Material Science , Thieme, (1982) p. 289
  • Karlheinz Körber, Zahnärztliche Prothetik , Thieme, 3rd edition, 1985 Stuttgart: pp. 18, 24 ISBN 3-13-658804-5 .
  • DJ Di Giacomo, William GA Bonwill: A Leading Light of Dentistry in the 19th Century , in Bulletin of the History of Dentistry . 1/1987, pp. 17-20.
  • J. El. Otaola, Dr William GA Bonwill , La Odontología (1899) pp. 412-427.
  • El Dr Bonwill (Apuntes para una semblanza) (script of a life story) , La Odontología, 1893, pp. 807–810.

Web links

  • Deepak K Gupta, Articulators , illustration of the original Bonwill articulator on slide 30, Institute of Dental Education and advance studies, Gwalior. SlideShare. Retrieved April 27, 2016.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Member History: William GA Bonwill. American Philosophical Society, accessed May 12, 2018 .
  2. a b c d Javier Sanz Serrulla, William GABonwill , Maxillaris, January 2006 (Spanish). Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  3. ^ Bonwill receives Cresson Medal , Franklin Institute. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  4. ^ Before the Lamaze Method. In: Anesthesiology. 124, 2016, p. 258, doi: 10.1097 / 01.anes.0000476059.02255.c8 .
  6. Klaus M. Lehmann, Elmar Hellwig, Hans-Jürgen Wenz: Dental Propaedeutics: Introduction to Dentistry; with 32 tables . Deutscher Ärzteverlag, 2012, ISBN 978-3-7691-3434-6 , p. 318 ( google.com ).
  7. Volker Bienengräber, Dentistry at the time of the founding of the Central Association of German Dentists - a historical review , Deutscher Ärzte-Verlag, DZZ, German Dental Journal (2011); 66 (1), pp. 57-58, accessed April 21, 2016.
  8. ^ Rotary instruments , Dental implant courses by the Indian dental academy. Retrieved October 19, 2017.