The history of dentistry (PART 1)
To talk about the history of dentistry we would need to look back almost 14,000 years ago, as it was recently discovered that a man from the paleolithic era had a primitive root canal made on a cavity he was suffering. The discovery has shaken everything one was thought about pre-historic dentistry. The procedure was likely done with small, sharp stone tools to remove the infection from the teeth.
There’s evidence of dentistry from Egypt at around 2,600 B.C. A group of researches found ancient medical texts detailing a bunch of oral problems and their treatment (although not all were effective). Then, we have Hippocrates in 460 B.C. talking about the link between certain foods and the loss of teeth.
Gold was used by the Romans to make fillings for rooted canals and to cover broken teeth. At the same time, there is evidence that points out China and India had developed something akin to toothpaste for their dental needs.
It was until 1250 when french barbers started to specialize as something regarded as dentists. Oral hygiene during the middle ages was very basic. Teeth were cleaned with pieces of linen or sponge, or by using toothpicks. Meanwhile, in the Aztec and Mayan empires, pieces of jade would be inserted on teeth for aesthetics. They also used seashells hammered into the jaw as dental implants.
The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth (Artzney Buchlein), the first book devoted entirely to dentistry, is published in Germany in 1530. Written for barbers and surgeons who treat the mouth, it covers practical topics such as oral hygiene, tooth extraction, drilling teeth, and placement of gold fillings.
Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon published The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise on Teeth (Le Chirurgien Dentiste) in the 1700’s. Fauchard is credited as being the Father of Modern Dentistry because his book was the first to describe a comprehensive system for the practice of dentistry including basic oral anatomy and function, operative and restorative techniques, and denture construction. His book also includes the statement that sugar derivative acids such as tartaric acid are responsible for dental decay.This century was the turning point for dentistry… because until that point most people thought cavities were the result of a “worm” that would eat their way through the teeth. The evil “tooth worm”! Sometimes even witchcraft was thought to be at fault for tooth pain and cavities in Europe.
By 1790, the first dentist chair and toothbrush were created and then in 1839 the first dentistry school was opened. We will stop here because most of the modern advances started to develop after this. Stay tuned for the second part of this blog post!