The beginning of higher education in dentistry in Croatia is linked to Eduard Radošević, the first teacher. Eduard Radošević completed his medical studies in Vienna in 1909 and he specialized in dentistry in Berlin. On January 20, 1922, he was awarded the title of venia docendi in dentistry at the School of Medicine in Zagreb, at that time the Faculty of Medicine (1). He founded the Chair of Dentistry, thus setting up the dentistry course for students of general medicine at the University of Zagreb. The course lasted for only one semester- the 8th, and the weekly workload were two hours of lectures and four hours of practicals (2). Dental practicals were held in Eduard Radošević’s private clinic until 1933 when an outpatient clinic was opened within the Otorhinolaryngology Clinic in Šalata. In 1934, specialization of dentistry for medical doctors was possible (2). Eduard Radošević developed dental science on scientific grounds and such a science which was closely related to natural sciences and medicine (1).
The next stage of development of dentistry is mainly related to the work of Doctor Ivo Čupar who was a doctor of general medicine and specialist in dentistry and maxillofacial surgery. Ivo Čupar was a professor of dental medicine at the Medical School in Zagreb and an academician. In the title of his inaugural lecture "Dental Medicine in the Light of General Medicine" held on May 14, 1938, the focus was on the development of dentistry as a biomedical science and profession. At the end of 1938, the Dental Clinic was opened at Šalata, later the Clinic for the Diseases of the Mouth, Teeth and Jaws, which became a site for dental practicals. Professor Čupar was a key person in the foundation of the Odontology Department at the School of Medicine of the University of Zagreb in September 1948. The first 47 students, including Vladimir Amšel, later a professor and dean of the School of Dental Medicine, University of Zagreb, enrolled in the Odontology Department. The Odontology Department was later a foundation for the establishment of the independent School of Dental Medicine at the University of Zagreb by the decision of the Croatian National Assembly on September 26, 1962 (2).
On the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of Dental Studies at the University of Zagreb from 1948 to 2018, this paper is dedicated to the first graduate doctor of dental medicine at the University of Zagreb - Milenko Lainović.
Milenko Lainović - life and work
The first eight students attending a university study of dental medicine completed the study in 1954 and obtained the title of dental medicine doctor – in Latin doctor medicinae dentariae. The first student who graduated on May 26, 1954 was Milenko Lainović. He was the first doctor of dental medicine at the University of Zagreb and received his degree on May 31, 1954 (Figure 1). According to data supplied by Dr. Lainović, which were also published in the daily press, in the first generation there were 96 students enrolled in the Odontology Department (3).
Milenko Lainović was born on 19 December 1928 in Podgorica, Montenegro. He had the first contact with dentistry as a boy when he visited the office of his cousin who was a dentist. He was fascinated by his cousin's work in his dental office, especially the transformation of an edentulous patient who received a prosthetic appliance. During the Second World War, Milenko Lainović received dental education from Risto Kuslev, a well-known dental practitioner in Podgorica. Upon his death in 1943, when he was 15 years old, Milenko Lainović inherited Kuslev's dental practice where he worked until May 1944 when there was an Allied bombing of Podgorica. He joined the partisans and remained at the command post until July 1945. After Podgorica had been liberated, he set up a new dental practice. In 1946, he enrolled in a two-year secondary dental school in Sarajevo (4).
At the time for college enrollment, he was offered a questionnaire in which he was supposed to complete three study choices, and then the committee would decide which applicant would enroll in accordance with the needs of Montenegro. Since he was determined in his intentions, he completed dentistry in all three choices, thus gaining the sympathy of the committee members who approved his enrollment. Since his two cousins were already in Zagreb, one as resident in the field of internal medicine and the other was studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, their positive impressions of Zagreb and inhabitants of Zagreb, and especially the relationship between professors and students, prevailed in choosing the place of study (5) .
Milenko Lainović enrolled in the Odontology Department at the School of Medicine in September 1948 (Figure 2). In his student identity card, the aforementioned status was "a regular student of the School of Medicine of the University of Zagreb" (Figure 3a-c). The first generations of students were studying a six-year program. In the first two years, students had classes together with medical students, according to the Medical School program. The students attended the lectures on Physics at the Veterinary Faculty. During the second year of the study, they attended the first dental course - Propedeutics of Prosthetic Dentistry, and the first lecture was given by Doctor Živko Bolf. In the third year, they were attending the courses of Pathology and Tooth Therapy and Odontology Propedeutics, conducted by Doctor Letica. Practicals related to these courses were first performed on the extracted teeth and subsequently on the patients.
Propedeutics of Prosthetic Dentistry was conducted by Doctor Miroslav Suvin, who also prepared the first written materials from the mentioned course. The students could learn other courses from lesson notes because there were no textbooks on dentistry. The only teacher with the title of professor was Professor Ivo Čupar, PhD, who was also head of the Dental Clinic in Šalata (6).
All the students of the School of Medicine, those from general departments and the students from the Odontology Department, were members of the Federation of Students of Yugoslavia under the name of the Zagreb Medical Association (6). On his graduation ceremony, doctor Lainović received a gift from the colleagues. It was the book "Diseases of the mouth", with a dedication and the seal of the Zagreb Medical Association (Figure 4). When congratulating him as the first graduate dentist, Doctor Vladimir Palmović, professor of Forensic Medicine at the School of Medicine, gave him the original human skull (Figure 5).
Dr. Lainović played a significant role in the development of dentistry in his native Montenegro and Yugoslavia. After graduation, he returned to Titograd, today Podgorica, where he was employed as the only graduate doctor of dental medicine. After a year of training, he was expected to pass a state-professional exam, but there was no one in Montenegro who was qualified to examine him. At the suggestion of Dr. Lainović, the Ministry of Health addressed the School of Dental Medicine in Zagreb and Doctor Erich Jelinek was sent to Montenegro to examine the expert part and other members of the Ministry of Health Committee were in charge of the legal part of the exam (5). In the following years, all the dental professionals: graduate, those with high school or secondary school diploma and dental technicians in the Republic of Montenegro were examined by Dr. Lainović at their state professional exam.
At the request of the Ministry of Health of Montenegro, Dr. Lainović reorganizes the dental service at that time, which was made up of a small part of educated dentists and a large number of less qualified or lay dentists and dental technicians. As early as in 1955, Dr. Lainović founded the Association of Dental Health Workers of Montenegro. Due to lack of staff, in 1961, he founded and led a secondary school for dentists, dental technicians, sanitary technicians and medical laboratory technicians, which was completed by 11 generations (3).
He attended a specialist training in oral surgery at the Clinic for Maxillofacial Surgery in Zagreb mentored by Professor Ivo Čupar, and at the Instituto Superiore di Odontoiatria George Eastman in Rome mentored by Professor A. Benagiano, at the General Surgery of the Medical Center in Podgorica mentored by Doctor O. Milačić and at Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic in Belgrade mentored by Professor A. Piščević, PhD, where he passed a specialist exam in 1969. He returned to Titograd as the first oral surgeon in Montenegro. In addition to oral surgery, the following 15 years he was also dealing with the treatment of facial and jaw fractures until the appointment of the first maxillofacial surgeon (5).
Milenko Lainović started to actively attend congresses as early as a student. In November 1952, he participated in the First Congress of the Dentists of Yugoslavia as a representative of the students of the Odontology Department, and he suggested that the title of "Doctor of Stomatology" instead of "Doctor of Dental Medicine" is awarded upon graduation (3).
He was the initiator and also the organizer of the first scientific and professional conference in Montenegro, entitled First Dental Sunday in Montenegro in 1970. At the invitation of Dr. Lainović, Professor Ivo Čupar solemnly opened and attended the meeting (3).
Dr. Lainović is the founder of dental section of the Society of Physicians of Montenegro (1971), which he presided over for many years. In 1972, he was elected president of the Association of Dentists of Yugoslavia. Besides, he was the President of Congress Committee of the Sixth Congress of Dentists of Yugoslavia, held from 5 to 9 October 1976 in Budva, with more than two thousand participants from Yugoslavia and sixty international guests (3). The Congress Resolution was published in Acta Stomatologica Croatica scientific journal, and the journal was awarded a Diploma for the advancement in the field of dentistry (Figure 6) (7).
In 1969, the School of Dental Medicine University of Zagreb awarded him a solemn diploma and plaque for the advancement of the School of Dental Medicine (Figure 7). The diploma was awarded at the 20th anniversary of university education in dental medicine, which was held one year later than the anniversary of 1969. Primarius Dr. Lainović is especially proud of the Plaque and the Annual Award of the Medical Chamber of Montenegro "Dr. Branko Zogović", which was awarded to him in 2011 for "special contribution to dental medicine and affirmation of humane principles of the profession" (3).
Dr. Lainović was working in the field of dental medicine for 58 years and gained the title of primarius. He has published 29 papers in the field of oral surgery. At the Faculty of Dental Medicine in Belgrade, he applied for a doctoral dissertation and passed a PhD candidacy exam in 1991. However, due to his health problems and the war events in the former Yugoslavia, he did not complete his doctoral dissertation (3).
Primarius Dr. Milenko Lainović visited the School of Dental Medicine of the University of Zagreb in September 2013 on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of dental studies. On that occasion, he joined the Alumni of the School of Dental Medicine and in conversation with the dean of the School Professor Hrvoje Brkić, PhD, he mentioned a large number of details he recalled about studying at the School for the readers of Acta Stomatologica Croatica (5). The visit was repeated on February 6, 2015, when he had the opportunity to get acquainted with the author of these lines (Figure 8). Figure 9 is a portrait of Primarius Dr. Milenko Lainović from 2018.
Milenko Lainović started his professional career at a time when dental patients in the former Yugoslavia were treated by dentists without formal education as well as dentists with a secondary school or high school diploma. On the ground of Croatia, dentistry was practiced by doctors of general medicine who specialized in dentistry at a foreign institution (Vienna, Graz, Budapest, Prague) as well as doctors of dental medicine who had graduated from dental medicine schools in Germany, Switzerland or the United States (8).
Although he started his dental career as a dental practitioner without formal education, he was not content with practicing dentistry as a craftsmanship. Thus, he enrolled into a secondary dental school and, subsequently, he enrolled at the Odontology Department at the School of Medicine in Zagreb in 1948. His serious approach to dentistry as a profession is reflected in a successfully completed study in the earliest possible time. His contribution to the development of dentistry in Montenegro and then Yugoslavia is undisputed, which is attested by numerous recognitions and duties he has performed.
The efforts of teachers and first generations of highly educated dentists that the seriousness of the study and the strong general medical emphasis become apparent in the scientific title acquired by diploma came true in 1957 when the Odontology Department changed its name to the Department of Dental Medicine and the graduate students received the professional title doctor of stomatology (Latin doctor medicinae stomatologicae) (2). By the time when Croatia was joining the European Union, according to the EU recommendations, the title doctor of stomatology was in English translation replaced with doctor of dental medicine. Without any explanations published in media that could be argued by dental professionals and general public, a new title has been introduced also in the Croatian language and name of the profession and since 2009 “stomatology” has been replaced with "dental medicine" and after a 6 year study a graduate student is awarded the title "doctor of dental medicine" (9). Given that the entire mouth (Greek stoma) as part of orofacial area is the focus of dental care, not just the tooth (Latin dens), this uncritical and unsubstantiated change of phrase seems to be a step back in the historical development of dental profession in Croatia.
We are grateful to Primarius Dr. Lainovic for the promotion and affirmation of the dental profession and the School of Dental Medicine, as well as for many details of the development of dental profession and his rich life experience, which are precious documents of our history.
Dear Mr. Primarius Dr. Milenko Lainović! It was our honor and pleasure to meet you personally. Your lively spirit and love for dental profession are inspiration and encouragement for young generations on their way to a successful dental career.