The Evolution of Dentistry: From Ancient Times to Modern Day

The profession of dentistry and dental care has a long history, dating back to 7500 BC in ancient Egypt. Thanks to the milestones achieved over the centuries, modern dentists are able to provide comfortable and convenient treatments for their patients. From primitive treatments to cutting-edge technologies, let's take a look at how dentistry has evolved over the years. Ancient Egyptians were the first to have replacement teeth, which are the forerunners of modern dentures and crowns.

Can you imagine undergoing dental work without anesthesia? A study published in PLOS One points out that our ancestors actually had very few cavities, thanks in part to their diet and the consumption of weeds with antibacterial properties. The Chinese were the first to use fillings made of amalgam as early as 700 A. D. By 1210 in France, dental surgeries, including tooth extractions, were routine.

Medieval care providers also began experimenting with anesthesia, making herbal mixtures from substances such as opium and hemlock. Root canals, dentures and crowns were part of dental services in the mid-18th century. 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.

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. The term “dentist” was not used until the 17th century, when Frenchman Pierre Fauchard emerged as the “father of modern dentistry”. He began his training in the French Navy at the age of 15, taking a special interest in diseases of the mouth. In 1723, Fauchard published a book, “The Surgeon Dentist, a Treatise on Teeth”, which described a comprehensive method of caring for and treating teeth for the first time. Even with the progress introduced by Fauchard's work, dentistry still looked completely different from what we know it is today.

The common anesthetics used during tooth extractions at this time were opium, ether, nitrous oxide, or even cocaine. Synthetic cocaine, called Novocaine, appeared on the scene in the early 20th century. With the rapid advancement in the field of oral health care, dentistry can now achieve things that 18th century surgeon hairdressers probably never dreamed of. Dental care has evolved from a primitive and often painful way from medicine to cutting-edge modern diagnostic and preventive care. Cosmetic dentistry can whiten your teeth and revitalize your smile, while invisible braces have replaced the metallic look of your mouth. These technologies have led dentistry to become the painless experience it is today, allowing patients to have the smile of their dreams.

Understanding the history of dentistry can help you appreciate modern medical practice and how far it has come.

Benjamín Gonçalves
Benjamín Gonçalves

Certified web maven. Freelance writer. Award-winning travel evangelist. Infuriatingly humble internet buff. Certified bacon practitioner.

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