A Journey Through the History of Dentistry

Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions, with its roots stretching back to 7000 BC.

Can you imagine undergoing dental work without anesthesia?

Thanks to the milestones achieved over the centuries, you can now enjoy the modern technologies and equipment your dentist uses to keep you comfortable during your appointments. Let's take a look at how the history of dentistry has led us to the present day. You may have wondered how ancient humans maintained oral hygiene, especially since they didn't have fluoride toothpaste to keep their teeth sparkling white. A study published in PLOS One reveals that our ancestors actually had very few cavities, thanks in part to their diet and the consumption of weeds with antibacterial properties.

The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that the Chinese were the first to use fillings made of amalgam as early as 700 AD. By 1210 in France, dental surgeries, including tooth extractions, were commonplace. In the 16th century, these procedures appeared in published books dedicated to dentistry, which described tooth extraction, jaw anatomy and dental caries in depth, among other topics. Medieval care providers also began experimenting with anesthesia, preparing herbal mixtures from substances such as opium and hemlock, according to the Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology. The ADA notes that root canals, dentures and crowns were part of dental services in the mid-18th century.

Dental professionals at the time were already tackling cosmetic problems and trying to make gold crowns look as close as possible to natural teeth. The Founding Fathers of the United States also played a role in the history of dentistry. Paul Revere announced his dental services in his newspaper, and George Washington infamously used many sets of dentures throughout his life, according to Tufts Dental Medicine. Although legend has it that it had wooden teeth, the dentures were actually made of a combination of bone, hippopotamus ivory, human teeth, brass screws, lead and gold wire. In 1859, 26 dentists met in New York and officially formed the ADA. By then, dentists had developed ether anesthesia for oral surgery.

Tube toothpaste as we know it today became a staple of oral hygiene at the turn of the century. One of the most important diagnostic tools in dentistry - radiography - was also discovered around this time. Today's dentists are able to provide a wide range of treatments thanks to centuries of progress in dental technology and techniques.

From ancient herbal remedies to modern-day anesthesia and radiography

, dentistry has come a long way since its beginnings.

Norma Dickhaus
Norma Dickhaus

Lifelong food evangelist. Amateur food maven. Award-winning explorer. Extreme internet buff. Certified twitter scholar.

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