UW School of Dentistry

Dr. John Ingle, noted endodontics educator, is mourned

Dr. John Ingle, who founded the graduate endodontics program at the University of Washington in 1959 and was considered one of the world’s foremost figures in this field of dentistry devoted to root canals, passed away Monday in California. He was 98.

Dr. John Ingle (left) is shown in 2009 with Dr. James Johnson, Chair of the UW Department of Endodontics, during a visit to the UW.

Dr. Ingle, a Washington native, joined the University of Washington dental faculty in 1948 after serving as a dentist in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. In 1959, he became chair of the new Department of Periodontics and Endodontics, which split into separate departments in 1967.

In 1964, he departed the UW to become dean of the School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California, where he spent eight years. After that, he spent six years at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. He later created the Palm Springs Seminars in Palm Springs, Calif., a leading institution for dental continuing education.

Dr. Ingle gained lasting prominence as the author of the authoritative textbook Endodontics, which was initially published in 1965 and, in its seventh edition, continues to be a staple of dental education. He also published more than 75 journal articles and lectured widely around the world.

“Dr. John Ingle deserves much of the credit for the very rapid rise in the reputation of the [UW endodontics] program,” wrote Drs. James Steiner and Dr. Norbert Hertl in their 2012 history of the department. “He had the foresight to recognize the role endodontics would play in health care and initiated a graduate program in endodontics in 1959. At that time it was one of only four or five such programs in the world. … Dr. Ingle’s long-term goals were to develop skillful clinicians, able teachers, and knowledgeable researchers. These same goals were pursued by every succeeding chair of the department.”

Dr. Ingle was a diplomate and founding member of the American Board of Endodontics and a diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology, and served as president of the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) from 1966 to 1967. In 1987, the AAE presented him with its Ralph F. Sommer Award, and in 1999 its highest honor, the Edgar D. Coolidge Award. In 2001 he was inducted into the USC School of Dentistry’s Hall of Fame.

After growing up in Colville, Wash., where his father was a dentist, Dr. Ingle received his DDS from Northwestern University and his MSD from the University of Michigan.

“I first fell in love with endodontics by reading Dr. Ingle’s textbook,” said Dr. James Johnson, Chair of the UW Department of Endodontics and, like Dr. Ingle, a dental alumnus of Northwestern. The two went on to forge a decades-long friendship that began when Dr. Johnson was Chair of Endodontics at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate Dental School and gave a presentation to a San Diego dental study club that was attended by Dr. Ingle.

“One of my greatest honors was when I was asked to write a chapter in Ingle’s Endodontics, sixth edition,” Dr. Johnson said. “I felt that I had come full circle from when I first read his textbook as a dental student.”

Dr. Johnson said that Dr. Ingle was an advocate of social justice who, as AAE president, would move meetings from locations where people of color could not rent a hotel room.

“He was a giant in the field, and an even better human being,” Dr. Johnson said. “We will not see an icon of his stature in endodontics and dentistry for a long time, if ever.”