In Memoriam

John B. Heyde, M.S., D.D.S.

The profession of dentistry lost an outstanding member in January of 2017. Most of the current generation of dentists would not know him and not too many of the gray-haired members of the profession knew him either. But, his contributions to the profession are evident in the daily practice of essentially all dentists throughout the world. His name is Dr. John Bradley Heyde.

John B. Heyde was born on December 27, 1926 and passed away on January 26, 2017 at the age of 90 years. He earned a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Michigan in 1952, followed by a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the same institution in 1957. He began his dental career working in research and product development with the L.D. Caulk Company in Milford, Delaware and continued with DENTSPLY Caulk for many years until transferring later in his career to DENTSPLY corporate headquarters (now Dentsply Sirona) in York, PA. His primary contributions to the profession were in industrial research and product development, and his contributions were numerous.

He had the opportunity to work with dentists and researchers across the globe. The main focus of his work was in the area of dental restorative materials and techniques. His work has had a direct impact on patient care today and the ability of dentists to deliver quality care.

He was a pioneer in the area of adhesive dentistry and worked with Dr. Michael G. Buonocore1 to develop enamel acid conditioning liquids, and later etchant gels, for bonding restorative materials and sealants. Following the death of Dr. Buonocore, Dr. Heyde worked with the Academy of Operative Dentistry to establish the Buonocore Memorial Lecture at the Annual Session, which allows the Academy to host an internationally recognized speaker each year.

As an industrial research scientist/dentist, Dr. Heyde was able to influence the care of patients throughout the world. In the late 1970s he was instrumental in developing the first photoinitiated sealant and restorative material. These early materials were photocured with a Nuva Lite using the ultraviolet wavelength.2-3 Because of some safety concerns and limited depth of cure with the UV wavelength, he helped develop a visible light curing unit (Prisma Lite), which used a quartz-tungsten-halogen light source, along with visible light curing resin-based materials.4 He was an innovator in visible light curing methods and materials. Dentists of today and their patients have benefited greatly because of his contributions.

I had the privilege of working alongside Dr. Heyde for three plus years from 1982-1985. After serving nine years as a dental officer in the U.S. Air Force and three years as a faculty member at Creighton University School of Dentistry, Dr. Heyde asked me to join him in research and development at DENTSPLY Caulk. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to be mentored by a very respected and talented researcher in the field of restorative dentistry. I was also able to work with dental materials researchers from around the world. But, most of all, this research position gave me a close-up opportunity to learn from Dr. Heyde. While we developed products for commercial sales, his focus was always on what will it do for the patient. His primary interest was developing materials and techniques to enhance patient care.

During the time I was at DENTSPLY Caulk, the use of resin composite in the posterior dentition was evolving. Clinical studies were showing wear of early generation tooth-colored restoratives when placed in posterior teeth.5 Dr. Heyde worked with chemists and university colleagues to develop improved resin composite materials and evaluation methods to monitor clinical performance. He truly helped usher in the growing use of resin composite for the posterior dentition and many patients and providers have since benefited from his work in the early 1980s. In the mid 80s he also helped to develop the first resin-based luting cements.6-7

So, while few in the practicing dental community knew this innovative research dentist, his research accomplishments, even today, have a daily impact on practicing dentists and the care their patients receive. He also forever changed my life and my professional career path. When I decided to depart from my industrial research position and return to academia, he simply said I understand. I will always be grateful for the time that my family and I shared with our friend, John. I hope that by sharing my comments and perspective that dental professionals will gain appreciation of his tremendous contributions to dentistry during a life well lived.


Wayne W. Barkmeier, D.D.S., M.S.
Special Professor and Dean Emeritus
Creighton University School of Dentistry


Department of Clinical Research
Caulk Division of Dentsply International
Milford, Delaware

circa 1983

Top row (L-R): Ralph Catts, CLT and Dr. John B. Heyde, Director of  Clinical Research
Bottom row (L-R): Josephine Wdowiak, Secretary, Dr. Wayne Barkmeier, Intramural Research Manager and
Cheryl (Morris) Passwaters, Administrative Assistant


1. Buonocore MG. A simple method of increasing the adhesion of acrylic filling to enamel surfaces. Journal of Dental Research 34(6):849-853, 1955.

2. Heyde JB. Ultraviolet light polymerized restorative system: Clinical report. Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry. 42(4):693-695, 1973.

3. Young  KC, Hussey M, Gillespie FC & Stephen KW. The performance of ultraviolet lights used to polymerize fissure sealants. Journal of Oral Rehabilitation 4(2):181-191, 1977.

4. Strassler H. The physics of light curing and its clinical implications. Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry 32(6):70-71, 2011.

5. Phillips RW, Avery DR, Mehra R, Swartz ML & McCune RJ. Observations on a composite for Class II restorations: Three-year report. Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry 30(6):891-897, 1973.

6. Barkmeier WW, Heyde JB & Holston AV. Composite luting cements for resin-bonded appliances. Journal of the Indiana Dental Association 62(6):13-17, 1983.

7. Cavel WT, Kelsey WP III, Barkmeier WW & Blankenau RJ. A pilot study of the clinical evaluation of castable ceramic inlays and a dual-cure resin cement. Operative Dentistry 19(4):257-262, 1988.