Evolution of Dentistry

All throughout history, the results of dental disease have plagued humanity. Our forefathers relied upon the treatments and tools that were open to them and applied whatever available treatment options they had based upon their knowledge at that time. Our forefathers might not have known the dental pain’s cause, but they did discover methods of alleviating their pain, fighting infection, and restoring teeth function.

A lot of the earlier beliefs concerning mouth health and some of the treatment techniques that transpired might be seen as barbaric by the standards of today, but it is intriguing to look back throughout time to check how dentistry has changed throughout the ages.

Earlier Beliefs That Explained Tooth Decay’s Cause

Evidence implies that a few cultures blamed disease and pain upon evil spirits, but throughout a lot of documented history, people generally thought that decay was created by worms making holes in the teeth, the theory originating from observing the way in which worms dug holes in wood. The concept of these worms goes as far back as 5000 BC.

References to the theory that worms caused decay are sprinkled all through the writings of Greek philosophers, and in the Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese cultures. A variety of remedies were created to extract these "worms" with amulets, charms, and herbs. Metal and stone tools were utilized to pull or pry any offending teeth and compounds were created to fill any damaged spaces.

The idea of teeth worms continued for hundreds of years until the 18th century when Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon, published a book entitled, “The Surgeon Dentist.” He was considered to be the father of modern-day dentistry who properly identified sugar as tooth decay’s cause and introduced a comprehensive dental care system.

Ancient Civilizations - Dental Practices

For at least 9000 years, what we now know as dentistry has been in practice in some way or another. Archaeological sites located in Pakistan have proof that troublesome teeth were drilled using a bow drill to extract decay, or potentially to let go of evil spirits thought to be creating discomfort. This archaeological finding was substantial because it showed that dentistry went back 40 centuries earlier than originally predicted.

People who lived in early civilizations commonly brushed their teeth using a brush-like tool made by chewing or pounding on twigs. Also, they were notorious for cleaning their teeth using bird feathers, porcupine quills, or animal bones, which were determined by the culture.

Middle Ages - Dental Practices

There’s considerable evidence that suggests our ancestors were fairly enlightened on the significance of taking care of their teeth, contrary to common belief. There’s a lot of evidence that suggests early hygiene customs involved using toothpaste, dental powder, and mouth rinse that fought off bad breath.

Troublesome teeth were usually treated using home remedies, as well as the help of a surgeon/barber who, besides pulling teeth, trimmed hair, conducted minor surgical treatments, and put on leeches, thought at the time to cure diseases.

It wasn’t abnormal for poor folks to have healthier teeth than the wealthy because of their dietary differences. Rich people could afford to consume sugar. Archaeological proof shows only 20% of teeth assessed during this era showed indications of decay, as compared with 90% of teeth in the period from 1900 to 1999. Some conventional dental care methods in medieval times involved:

  • Teeth that were compromised by decay were usually pulled
  • Opium and clove oil for relief of pain
  • Liquids that whitened teeth
  • Mouth rinses created with aromatic spices and wine or vinegar
  • Brushing teeth using black pepper or powdered charcoal
  • Toothpaste created from salt crystals and sage
  • After eating, drying teeth using linen

American Dentistry - Early Years

Even though the previous model of the modern-day toothbrush, a little boar-bristle brush, was designed in China in the year 1498, the practice of utilizing a toothbrush to clean the teeth didn’t get to Europe until the 1700s.

Until the mid-to-late 18th century, dentistry was very painful. It was not until the last decade of the 1700s that laughing gas (nitrous oxide) was initially utilized to minimize the discomfort of dentistry. Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, was a highly anticipated invention of the industry of dentistry and continued as the standard pain relief method for the next five decades, and it’s still in use today.

For hundreds of years, dentistry was frequently done by those with little formal training or education. Chapin Harris and Horace Hayden, in the 19th century, founded the original dental society. Dentistry, by the middle of the 1800s, was usually practiced by doctors, medical school graduates who obtained apprenticeship training, as well as dentist apprentices.

In 1840, Baltimore’s College of Dental Surgery was set up, and Alabama established the initial Dental Practice Act of 1841. Almost two decades after setting up the initial dental schools, the ADA was formed. Harvard University’s Dental School, in 1867, became the original dental organization associated with a university. Some other noteworthy historical happenings include:

  • 1832: Invention of a reclining chair
  • 1839: Vulcanized rubber was discovered by Mr. Charles Goodyear, which revolutionized dentures
  • 1866: Lucy Hobbs, the first female dental professional, graduated from Ohio College of Dental Surgery
  • 1871: The original mechanical drill was patented by James B. Morrison
  • 1877: Invention of a hydraulic chair
  • 1873: Colgate presented the initial commercial toothpaste that replaced common ingredients such as chalk and soap
  • 1875: An electric drill was patented by George Green, American Dentist
  • 1882: The original collapsible tube of toothpaste was presented
  • 1905: The finding of procaine (now known as Novocain)

In the 20th century as few as 7% of households in America cleaned their teeth on a daily basis, or even carried toothpaste inside their homes. The majority of people in America didn’t start cleaning their teeth on a daily basis until after the Second World War.

Because of the alarming poor mouth health trend within their recruits, the military forced those who enlisted to clean their teeth two times a day. Soldiers of war are thought to have proceeded with their healthier mouth hygiene habits following World War II, and their loved ones followed that example. In addition, the health agencies and government started school educational programs that emphasized the teaching of oral hygiene, as well as the significance of check-ups to kids in school.

Nowadays, we’re a lot luckier than our forefathers. Modern-day dentistry continuously advances, and patients have many more treatment choices now than before to restore and maintain their smiles. For cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, and preventative dentistry in Shoreline, WA, get in touch with the best Shoreline dentist, Dr. Eric Yao, to check what the most recent technological advances might do for you.