When you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair, you might not give much thought to how dentistry came to be. Here’s a little bit about the history of dental science, and how modern dentistry evolved.
The earliest record of dental science can be traced back to 5000 BC. A Sumerian text described “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay. About 2,500 years later, an Egyptian scribe known as the first dentist passed away. The inscription on his tomb read, “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” Between 500 and 300 BC, philosophers Aristotle and Hippocrates wrote about dental science. Topics included treating tooth decay and gum disease, removing teeth using forceps, and even using wires to stabilize fractured jaws and loose teeth.
During the Middle Ages, two important dental history works were published. In 1530, Artzney Buchlein’s Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth was published in Germany. It was the first book devoted to dentistry and covered topics like oral hygiene and placing fillings. Forty-five years later, a Frenchman named Ambrose Pare, known as the Father of Surgery, published his Complete Works. It detailed tooth extraction and treatment for tooth decay and jaw fractures.
In 1723 another revolutionary work was published. Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon known as the Father of Modern Dentistry, published The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise on Teeth. It described a comprehensive system of dental science practices like basic oral anatomy and function, dental construction, and operative techniques. Throughout the 18th century, some of the first American dentists started practicing, the first patent for porcelain teeth was received, and the first dentist chair is constructed.
Throughout the 19th century, many advances in science and education were made. From the first dental school to the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, an investment in dental science helped establish dentistry as an important field. The American Dental Association and the American Society of Dental Surgeons were established in the 1800s. Some of the scientific achievements made in the 19th century include the reclining dental chair, commercial manufacture of porcelain teeth, the use of ether anesthesia for dental surgery, tubed toothpaste, the practice of inserting gold into a cavity, and many more.
As in the century before it, the 20th century experienced many more advancements in dental science. It also saw the creation of many organizations and practices including the American Board of Orthodontics, the U.S. Army Dental Corps, water fluoridation, and the first dental hygienist program. Other developments in dental science included the porcelain crown, nylon and electric toothbrushes, fluoride toothpastes, tooth-colored restorative materials for cosmetic dentistry, and Novocain, among others.
Next time you come in for a checkup, think about all of the history of dental science and the ways it’s shaped our culture and medical practices. At Caring Smiles, we’d love to discuss dentistry with you the next time you visit. Call us today to make an appointment!