Our History

The Beginning: 1930’s to early 1940’s

Periodontics as a specialty was in its infancy. Training programs were not readily available and no dental schools in the southwest part of the country offered what is known today as a postdoctoral program in the field of periodontology.

After World War II, most dentists had been exposed to the success of periodontal therapy while in the armed services. Most of these dentists who became specialists had originally been in general practice.

As the specialty began to develop, some leaders in periodontics began to urge the formation of regional organizations.

John Swindle

The Society was Formed: 1940’s to 1950’s

In Texas, one of the first efforts was made by Joe Reed of Dallas who attempted to organize a Texas Society of Periodontists. However, the timing was not yet right for it failed to become a viable group.

Later, in 1954, James Clark of Texarkana, Charles Finley of Lubbock, and John Swindle of Waco, became the organizing committee for the formation of the present Southwest Society. The first meeting was held in 1955 at the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth. At this meeting, John Swindle was elected to be the first president of the Society.

Although the original constitution did not specify the states from which the members would come, they were made up of periodontists from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico. Several years later, the few members of the Society from New Mexico decided that their interests tended to correspond more with the western states, and they affiliated with the Western Society of Periodontology.

SWSP Publishes ‘The Probe’: 1950s to 1970s

James Clark, the second president of the Society, foresaw the value of a publication which later became Periodontology Today. The purpose of the newsletter was stated to be 1) dissemination of information about the Society, 2) to provide a place where members could air their own views, 3) to stimulate reading of the current literature 4) to review one article in each issue which was not in the current literature but which had made a long lasting contribution to periodontology.

Those editors of Periodontology Today willingly took on the responsibility of routinely reviewing all issues of the major dental journals. The newsletter became well known and was a major factor in helping to hold the membership of the new organization together. A new journal with a new name, The Probe, became the official publication in 1972. Reviews of dental literature became fewer as a greater need to provide reports on SWSP meetings to the membership became a priority.

John Prichard

Evolvement of the Prichard Competition: 1980’s to 1990s

One of the most consistent projects of the Society has been to encourage graduate students. The Society has offered incentives such as prizes and trips to the Annual Meeting for those who write scientific papers which are then judged competitively. This competition has evolved into the Prichard Prize for Graduate Research which was established as a tribute to John F. Prichard, president of the Society in 1964 and 1965. The competition is held on an annual basis before a member audience and judging panel.

SWSP Executive Committee holds Virtual Meeting to discuss COVID-19 Impacts on the Society: 2020

Group Photo during Zoom Call

Read the SWSP historical archive from 1955 - 1992.


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