About Dr P R Begg

Dr P Raymond Begg, or “Tick” Begg as he was later known, was born in a tent on 13 October 1898 at Coolgardie in the West Australian goldfields. His family moved to Adelaide when he was two years old.

He spent a year as a jackeroo before enrolling in dentistry at the University of Melbourne and received a B.D.Sc. in 1924. In 1924-25 he trained at the (E. H.) Angle College of Orthodontia in Pasadena, California, United States of America.  Returning to Adelaide, he entered into private practice as an orthodontist and lectured part time (1926-63) at the University of Adelaide. During that time he developed both a new philosophy for diagnosing orthodontic problems and a new mechanical system for moving teeth.

A young Raymond Begg (top right) at Prince Alfred College, Adelaide.

As an orthodontist, Begg was forward looking and innovative, consistently pushing at the frontiers of clinical practice. His ideas were at the cutting edge and the techniques he developed are still relevant and have been incorporated into a variety of orthodontic techniques which are used today. At the time there were many critics who frowned on his innovative ideas but science and time proved him right.

Dr Begg with Dr Peter Kesling and Arthur Wilcocks.

A founding member (1927) of the Australian Society of Orthodontists and honorary member of the Australian Dental Association, South Australian branch, Dr Begg was also a fellow of the International College of Dentists and of the (Royal) Australian College of Dental Surgeons. In 1977 the American Board of Orthodontics presented him with the Albert H. Ketcham memorial award. The Australian Society of Orthodontists’ Foundation for Research and Education established the P. Raymond Begg award in 1978. Begg societies of orthodontics were formed in Europe, North America, Japan and the Philippines.

Dr P R Begg alongside a portrait of himself.

Dr P R Begg alongside a portrait of himself.

He was awarded a Doctorate of Dental Science by the University of Adelaide in 1935 and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1981. The PR Begg Chair of Orthodontics at the University was named in his honour.  His light-wire appliance was made a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Other displays are maintained at the Library of the American Dental Association in Chicago and the PR Begg Museum at the University of Adelaide. In 2001, the Begg appliance system was recognised as one of the 100 significant Australian innovations since Federation in 1901 and examples re held in display at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.  Dr Begg was recognised as one of two hundred important Australians in the bicentennial celebrations in 1988 and he commemorated with a plaque set into the footpath of North Terrace, Adelaide. In 2007 the Pierre Fauchard Society honoured Dr Begg as the 17th inductee to the Hall of Fame.

Orthodontics was Dr Begg's passion and he continued to work and consult long after his formal retirement. He registered his last patent in 1982, at the age of 84. He died in Adelaide on 18 January, 1983.