Retro medicalinstruments on a wooden table. Shallow depth of field.

How Has Dentistry Evolved Throughout the Years?

Did you know that the first dental reference was written in 5,000BC and stated that dental decay was caused by tooth worms. The first reference to someone who practiced dentistry was found in Egypt and dated back to 2,600BC? Since those early times, dentistry has significantly evolved. Lucky for us, individuals now have access to toothbrushes, antiseptic, and fluoride mouthwash for daily oral care. Dentists now have anesthesia to help with pain during dental procedures. They use electric drills to clean out cavities and file teeth. However, that wasn’t always the case.

Dentistry in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages is widely considered to be the beginning of the dental profession. This spans the years between 500 and 1,500BC. The first amalgam filling, which consisted of a silver paste, was found in an ancient textbook in China from 700BC. Oral hygiene consisted of wiping the teeth with a plain cloth, or creating a paste from ground sage and salt crystals and applying that to the teeth with the cloth. They also used vinegar for mouthwash.

The dental practitioners and medical doctors at the time were the barbers. They were given the responsibility because they were familiar with sharp instruments and knew how to use them skillfully. Along with tooth extractions, they also performed minor surgeries, bloodletting, and the setting of broken bones.

18th Century Dentistry

By the 18th century, the profession of dentistry started to develop substantially. The first professional dentists were finally being medically trained. Pierre Fauchard published his book entitled, The Surgeon Dentist: A Treatise on Teeth, which is an expansive text on dental hygiene. It also goes over how to treat dental decay, and pull teeth. The book has information on the structures of the mouth. Dental care was also developing in America, and individuals could receive rudimentary dental bridges that were made out of human and animal teeth. Contrary to popular belief, George Washington did not have a set of wooden teeth, instead, he actually wore dentures made from hippopotamus tusk.

19th Century Dentistry

In 1801, Richard C. Skinner wrote and published the first textbook on dental care and human teeth in America. Twenty-four years later, Samuel Stockton created the first porcelain teeth for widespread use in correcting missing teeth. Then, the first reclining dental chair was invented. This helped improve the comfort of individuals receiving dental care. Shortly after, the first electric dental drill was developed to help in the treatment of cavities and tooth decay. Amalgam and gold fillings were also used to help fill cavities and restore tooth structure. Individuals also had access to better oral hygiene products. The first toothpaste in a tube was developed and x-rays were used to detect problems in the mouth and dental decay.

Dental Care Today

For individuals who are anxious about going to the dentist, we now often recommend sedation dentistry, which can help individuals relax during their appointment.

You also have a range of treatment options for straightening, whitening, and filling teeth. For example, 20 years ago, nearly every dentist used mercury fillings when treating and sealing cavities and improving the structure of the damaged tooth. Today, we use composite fillings, which are better able to match your natural tooth color, and don’t pose any risk of mercury toxicity.

Just in the past few years, we’ve upgraded our dental recommendations for teeth cleanings. In the past, every dentist recommended getting a dental cleaning once a year to help prevent cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Today, we recommend that everyone get a yearly x-ray and professional dental cleanings twice a year, or every six months. This has been proven to dramatically reduce instances of gum disease and take preventative measures at the first sign of gum disease.

To schedule your next dental care appointment and learn of all the ways we can help you maintain your oral hygiene and improve the appearance of your teeth, contact Artistic Touch Dentistry at 321-724-1400.