Occlusion Pioneer Dr. Peter Dawson, 1930-2019

Dentistry Today


Dr. Peter E. Dawson, renowned clinician, teacher, and author and founder of the Dawson Academy, died on Saturday, July 27 at the age of 89. Dawson is known around the world for his work in restorative dentistry, occlusion, and diagnosing and treating temporomandibular disorders.

A 1954 graduate of the Emory University School of Dentistry, Dawson was a past president and life member of the American Equilibration Society as well as a past president of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry and the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry.


Also, he was the author of influential textbooks including Evaluation, Diagnosis and Treatment of Occlusal Problems, Functional Occlusion: From TMJ to Smile Design, and The Complete Dentist Manual. In 2016, he received the ADA Distinguished Service Award. He was one of Dentistry Today‘s Leaders in Continuing Education as well. 

Dawson began teaching his one-man lecture series, “Concepts of Complete Dentistry,” in 1961. He founded the Dawson Academy in 1979. According to the Dawson Academy, more than 40,000 dental professionals have learned to solve complex dental problems using the principles of occlusion that Dawson developed.

“Pete Dawson’s clinical knowledge of occlusion and all aspects of restorative dentistry has directly or indirectly touched every dentist on the planet,” said Dr. John Cranham, clinical director of the Dawson Academy. 

“But for the dentists that really studied and spent time with him, it was his concepts of family, faith, and life balance that changed our lives. He had the ability to inspire us to understand and spend time on the things that matter most, and to do so before we realized how important they were,” Cranham said.

“His impact on me is beyond measure! He told me once, ‘I want you to find your passion in dentistry, go out and learn what everyone else is doing about that topic, and then go back to your practice and do it better!’ He will forever continue to inspire me,” said Dr. Kim Daxon, resident expert of removable prosthodontics at the Dawson Academy.

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