Through time… until today.
Reflecting on the past, searching through the archives, data and testimonies for the history of Macedonian dentistry, today, after 60 years, we notice that there are not enough documents that will speak in favor of the hard work and enthusiasm invested by dentistry founders. We will try to note down the available data for the development of Macedonian dentistry from the aspect of clinical practice as well as the educational requirement of the staff aimed for this section of the healthcare system.
There are records witnessing the beginnings of organized staff education. The latter included all that were taking care of the health issues of the population in the country. The afore mentioned records note that in 1945, the existing staff was mobilized and organized to attend a course for the purpose to check the knowledge and train people who, before the war, worked in private doctor’s offices and dental laboratories, but lacked any formal qualifications. In fact, before World War II, there was almost no public dental service, except for 2-3 public stations where dentists worked for several hours, while the rest of the time they worked in their private doctor’s offices. Several dental doctors have completed their odontological studies abroad, but there were also several specialists in oral and dental diseases who acquired their title after completing their medical studies. Apart from this, a couple of more dentists and a limited number of dental technicians comprised the fellowship of dentistry.
No later than 1945/46 the first school for dental technicians was opened under the leadership of Dr. Metodija Trojachanec. In the following year, 1947, a state school for dentists began working, managed by Dr. Mileva Zlatanovikj, and the teaching staff included Dr. Vasil Filjanski, Dr. Dimitar Smilev, Dr. Nikola Shajber, Dr. Dimitar Zhelezarov, Dr. Vera Kalpakova, as well as the dentists Ljupco Delov, Chochkov, Miloshevich, Chanikijan, Blajer and others. Dental technicians with two years of education, as well as the first three generations of dentists, are the first educated staff for dental care in the country.
These pioneers of dentistry were later joined by dentists who graduated in Belgrade or other faculties, and they were involved not only in health care but also in educating future staff.
The first student from Macedonia who graduated from the University of Belgrade and got a job in Skopje in 1953 was Dr. Dimitar Duljanov. In 1954, a respectable number of graduate dentists joined the public service, thus qualitatively changing dental care which transferred into dental service.
After the foundation of the Faculty of Medicine in Skopje in 1947, in the academic year 1948/49 the Clinic for oral, dental and jaw diseases was founded, which signalled the need for organized and professional dental care in the Republic of North Macedonia.
The beginning of the Clinic dates back to 1948 when it was placed in a one-story construction with four rooms, then it was supplemented with a prefabricated construction with dental laboratories and in 1949 it was named Clinic for Oral, Dental and Jaw diseases. In 1951, a dispensary with 12 hospital beds was established. In 1956 the number of beds increased to 22 and in the same year a unit for correction of jaws and teeth was opened. In 1958, the dispensary was moved to the western ground floor and the basement of the Surgical Clinic, where besides the dispensary, polyclinical activity was performed as well: conservative dentistry, prosthetics, orthodontics and oral diseases.
The beginnings of dental higher education are noted in the first classes at Dentistry for medical students at the Faculty of Medicine, held in 1952 by Assistant professor Dr. Dimitar Smilev at the time. The first practical dental classes for medical students began in the same year. In 1954, at the Clinic, apart from Assistant professor Dr. Dimitar Smilev and Dr. Dimitar Zhelezarov, Dr. Ivan Tavchiovski, Dr. Nevenka Tomcheva, Dr. Ivan Minev, Dr. Zvonko Kotnik, Dr. Gjorgji Simov and Dr. Vojteh Santo were also employed. They has their knowledge upgrade in Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana.
Faced with a shortage of staff able to respond to the dental problems of the population, a panel composed of Prof. Dr. Jozha Rant, from the Faculty of Dentistry in Ljubljana, Prof. Dr. Laza Petrovikj, from the Faculty of Dentistry in Belgrade and Assistant professor Dr. Smilev prepared the proposal for the foundation of the Department of Dentistry within the Faculty of Medicine in Skopje.
On June 19, 1959, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia passed the Law on the Establishment of the Department of Dentistry at the Faculty of Medicine in Skopje and in 1959/60, the first generation of 37 students was enrolled at the Department of Dentistry at the Faculty of Medicine with a curriculum in duration of eight semesters. The Clinic for Oral, Dental and Jaw diseases was used as the teaching base of the Department with three subjects: Dental (Oral) Surgery, Maxillofacial Surgery and Orthopedics of Jaws and Teeth. The first teacher of the three subjects was the director of the Clinic for Oral, Dental and Jaw diseases, then Assistant professor Dr. Dimitar Smilev, and at the same time two institutes were established. What follows after is the selection of Dr. Dimitar Zhelezarov as a teacher for Dental Prosthetics and Assistant professor Dr. Ivan Tavchiovski, responsible for Dental Pathology and Therapy, Oral Diseases and Pediatric Dentistry. Assistants Gjorgji Simov and Nevenka Tomcheva also took part in the teaching activity. The core subjects were taught by the staff of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the general medicine and medical subjects were taught by the teachers of the Faculty of Medicine.
Due to lack of spatial capability at the Department of Dental Care, which at the same time was actively involved in the teaching activity of the Faculty, the Board at the Teaching-Scientific Council of the Faculty of Medicine (Prof. Dr. D. Smilev, Asst. Prof. Dr. Ivan Tavchiovski, Prof. Dr. A. Andreevski, Prof. Dr. P. Karagjozov, Prof. Dr. J. Panov) made a decision to build a new facility.
The first generation of students carried out the practice for the subjects: preclinical prosthetics, clinical prosthetics, dental pathology, pediatric and preventive dentistry and oral diseases at the former Institute of Chemistry, and then, the following generations carried out the practice in a facility called “provisorium I” built for the purpose (academic year 1962/63). The practice for dental surgery,stomatosurgery, orthopedics of teeth and jaws and dental rentgenology and the practice for the subject of dentistry for medical students was carried out at the Clinic for oral and jaw disease. In 1964, after the earthquake, the growing needs for the teaching activity required the construction of “provisorium II”.
The first generation of dental students at the Department of Dentistry at the Faculty of Medicine in Skopje graduated in 1963/64. Those were also the years when there was an increase in the number of enrolled students. Having in mind that in that period, although short part-time study was possible, help in the teaching activity was a necessity, therefore, staff from the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Dentistry in Belgrade were hired (Prof. Dr. Ivan Bikar, Prof. Dr. Milisav Teodosijevikj, Prof. Dr. Dragoljub Dzhajic and Prof. Dr. Milutin Kremzhar). During this period, new staff was recruited including Dr. Ilija Vaskov, Dr. Blagorodna Lazarevska, Dr. Ljubinka Necheva, Dr. Stojan Petrovski, Dr. Temenuga Simovska, Dr. Vasil Galev and Dr. Simka Serafimova.
In 1965, the Clinic for Oral, Dental and Jaw diseases, which integrated the two institutes: Institute of Dental Prosthetics and Institute of Conservative Dentistry, grew into the dental department of the Faculty of Medicine.The following units were incorporated in it as well: maxillofacial surgery (dispensary with 28 beds), oral surgery, dental prosthodontics, dental pathology and therapy, oral diseases, orthodontics, pediatric and preventive dentistry, radiology unit, dental laboratories and mechanical service (they actually constitute the Dental Clinic at the Faculty of Medicine).
Simultaneously with the undergraduate teaching, the process of education of the first dentistry specialists began. In the academic year 1965/66, the first specializations in dentistry were approved, namely orthodontics with prosthetics. The first dentistry specialist is Dr. Gjorgji Simov, later becoming a professor at the Department of Fixed Prosthodontics. As the curricula for undergraduate teaching changed, so did this type of education, and in 1970, according to an established Rulebook, the specializations were conducted as a three-year rotation and a final specialist exam. Curriculum details, as well as biographical data on the doyens of dentistry are preserved in the jubilee monographs and are considered lasting legacy for future generations. In the period of the 70s and 80s of the previous century, the founders of modern dentistry worked and achieved results, thus paving the way for independent growth of Macedonian medicine.
The professional staff participated in the congresses organized by the Macedonian Medical Association. Professional announcements at the time were published in the Macedonian Medical Review.
In 1967, the newly established dental section at the Macedonian Medical Association organized the historic conference of dentists from Macedonia, in Katlanovska Spa Medical Center. This section grew into the Association of Dentists of Macedonia, and later into the Macedonian Dental Society, the oldest representative of dentists in our country and abroad.
In addition to the teaching and health activities, the scientific-research activity also developed and in the academic year 1973/74, regular classes in duration of four semesters began for the first students of master studies. In 1976, with the defense of the master’s thesis, defended at the Department of Dentistry at the Faculty of Medicine, the academic title of Master of Dental Science was first awarded to Dr. Ljupka Dimkova, later Prof. Dr. Lj. Matovska.
The first Doctor of Dental Sciences in the Republic of Macedonia was Prof. Dr. Tome Tudzharov, who acquired the title in Belgrade.
In 1979, the first doctoral dissertation in the field of dentistry was defended at the Department of Dentistry at the Faculty of Medicine by Dr. Marija Nakova, later a professor at the Department of Oral and Periodontal Diseases.
The need for expansion of professional-scientific knowledge through our own public medium was comprehended in 1977 when the first professional magazine of dentists from Macedonia was published – Macedonian Dental Review. The first editor-in-chief was Prof. Dr. Ivan Tavchiovski who together with his deputy, Prof. Dr. Blagorodna Lazarevska and the editorial board established the Macedonian periodicals.
In the same year, 1977, the first independent library was founded, and in the history records we find the name of Prof. Dr. Ljupka Matovska (then assistant) as responsible for this important segment in education.
In 1977/78, the Department of Dentistry grew into the Faculty of Dentistry, when the first Dean of the Faculty was elected, Prof. Dr. Ivan Tavchiovski, as well as the first Vice Dean, Prof. Dr. Blagorodna Lazarevska. The eight already formed units grew into eight departments with subjects in dentistry. The organization of the Faculty and its bodies was established, and the first regular session of the Teaching-Scientific Council was held on July 3, 1979. The staffing, expressed in numbers, was: 6 professors, 13 associate professors, 9 assistant professors, 1 university lecturer, 25 assistants, 6 junior assistants and 18 dentists.
The Faculty of Dentistry in 1980 was transformed into a separate organization with two teaching bases: BOAL Dental Clinics and BOAL Maxillofacial Surgery. The Dean’s office of the Faculty consists of a special Working Community, the Secretariate.
From its very beginning until today, the Faculty is permanently focused on staff training through education in the country and abroad, as well as through guest lecturers from world-renowned centers.
The necessity for constant monitoring of the new technologies in dentistry as a separately defined form dates back to 1989, when Prof. Dr. Eftim Mirchev, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Faculty of Dentistry, established the first continuous education, a symposium titled “Scientific achievements in dentistry”.
In the mid-1990s, the two facilities that were built as teaching bases of the Faculty were separated and operated under the Ministry of Health.
Today, the Faculty performs its higher education, scientific research and applied, i.e. professional health activity, as the only functional unit in the teaching bases, namely in the preclinics and clinics within the PHI University Dental Clinical Center “St. Pantelejmon”- Skopje and within the PHI University Clinic for maxillofacial surgery, which are the teaching bases of the Faculty.
There are seven departments at the Faculty of Dentistry in Skopje: Department of Oral and Periodontal Diseases, Department of Dental and Endodontic Diseases, Department of Prosthetic Dentistry, Department of Oral Surgery, Department of Orthodontics, Department of Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry and Department of Maxillofacial Dentistry. Since April 2010, the teaching-scientific staff of the Faculty of Dentistry has double employment contracts, at the Faculty, as well as at the University Dental Clinical Center “St. Pantelejmon” and the University Clinic for face, jaw and neck surgery – maxillofacial surgery “Academic Ilija Vaskov”.
Today the number of the teaching-scientific staff has significantly changed, compared to 1989.
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The teaching at the Faculty is achieved through study programs of first, second and third cycle, as well as of second cycle of professional studies.
In the past period, efforts were made to repair the Faculty’s assembly halls, as well as to adapt the rooms where the teaching is performed – classrooms in the old building of the Dean’s office and the Clinic for maxillofacial surgery. Today, the assembly hall of the Faculty of Dentistry has been completely renovated and equipped with modern audiovisual equipment for teaching. Also, completely renovated and properly equipped for teaching is the classroom in the old Dean’s office. When it comes to modernizing the capacity of the Faculty of Dentistry, it should be noted that a complete renovation has been done of the rooms where practical classes of preclinical prosthetic subjects are performed, as well as for the subjects in the field of dental pathology. Also, the biochemical laboratory has been made active again.
Following the Library’s period of stagnation, it is reactivated, renovated, and it became a place where all students, residents and teaching-scientific staff can enjoy its benefits, including the free access to the Hinari database.
The Faculty of Dentistry focuses, above all, on the students, their education in pace with the modern postulates of education, as well as updated methods of knowledge transfer and assesment. The Faculty looks forward to provide practical skills for the students that will enable graduates to fit the requirements of the profession in our country and abroad. The oldest Faculty of Dentistry in our country is a desirable student destination, and a number of enrolled students testify for the above stated, both domestic and foreign students. This process has been actively taking place since its foundation until today. From 1959 to 2019, 4,608 students graduated from the study program for doctors of dental medicine.
In the years of constant growth of the teaching-scientific activity, special care is taken not only for the quality of teaching, but also for the respect of academic freedom.
No less important is the spread of scientific achievements of the Macedonian dentistry throughout the world through numerous presentations at seminars, congresses, as well as visits in relevant scientific centers.
At the same time, the Faculty is a point of creation of staff who professionally take up oral health of the population, both during their studies and after graduation. We are proud that some of the students who have acquired their higher education at the Faculty are renowned names in the world, and some of them are professors at prestigious universities in Europe and the United States.
Looking to the future, the current generation at the Faculty of Dentistry proudly remembers the founders of the Faculty and recalls our esteemed professors – our teachers with gratitude, whilst continuing to create new entries in the archives of the oldest higher education institution in our country.