Ferdinand Gorgas was born in Winchester, Virginia to John DeLancy and Mary Ann Gorgas on July 27, 1835. He prepared for his undergraduate years at the Dickinson College Grammar School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and then entered the college proper with the class of 1854 in the autumn of 1850. Gorgas was elected to the Belles Lettres Society and graduated with his class. Following commencement, he entered the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, earning his D.D.S. in 1855.
In 1857, Gorgas took up a faculty position - termed at the time "demonstrator of Mechanical Dentistry" - at his old dental college. In 1860 he was promoted to full professor, succeeding the school's founder, Chapin Harris. Aware of the importance of medicine to dentistry, he also studied simultaneously at the University of Maryland. Gorgas gained his M.D. in 1863, completing his thesis on "the fracture of bones." He then enlisted in the United States Army as an assistant surgeon and served until the end of the Civil War. On his return in 1865, Gorgas was named as dean of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. He remained there until 1882, when he accepted the post of founding dean and professor of dental science in the new dental school at the University of Maryland. Gorgas published prolifically and is remembered as one of the pioneers of modern dentistry. His major work was Dental Medicine, A Manual of Dental Materia Medica and Therapeutics, drawn from years of classroom lectures. It was first published in 1884 and reprinted seven times.
Gorgas married Anna E. Swormstedt. Ferdinand Gorgas died at his home in Hamilton Terrace, Baltimore on April 8, 1914. He was seventy-eight years old.