Have you ever wondered where dentists came from? No, not where your dentist was born and all of the life experiences that led them to work on your teeth, but rather, have you ever wondered where humans got the concept of dentistry?
The history of dentistry is quite fascinating and may give you some insight into modern dental methods and treatments.
Origins of Dentists and Dentistry
Did you know that dentistry was one of the first medical professions in the world? Dentistry dates back to around 7000 B.C., according to some drilled molars found in the Indus River Valley.
The first dentist in history, Hesy-Re, died in 2600 BC. His tomb referred to his work as a physician who dealt with teeth. Clearly, early civilizations understood the importance of teeth and sought ways to treat problem areas.
Even the ancient Greeks treated tooth decay. Important philosophers and thinkers, including Aristotle, wrote about ancient Greek dentistry and the attempts to treat decaying teeth.
Despite their fascination and attempts to treat it, the causes of dental decay remained sorely misunderstood until the middle ages. During the 1500s, books on teeth and maladies of the teeth appeared in Europe and laid the groundwork for the dental profession.
Growth of the Dental Profession
The 1700s marked a period of rapid growth and some significant players in the world of dentistry. A French surgeon, Pierre Fauchard, established a name as the Father of Modern Dentistry following the publication of a book detailing everything from basic oral anatomy to restoration and even denture construction.
Several decades later, John Baker left England to establish America’s first dental practice. Though this may not seem terribly important, John Baker would eventually train a famous American patriot, Paul Revere.
The Other Side of Paul Revere
You may know about Paul Revere as a Patriot and his famous midnight ride, but he contributed far more to America than that! What do you know about Paul Revere dentist?
One of Revere’s contributions to the world was the introduction of dental forensics. During the Battle of Bunker Hill, Dr. Joseph Warren fell and ended up in a mass grave. Later, Revere was able to identify Dr. Joseph Warren’s badly decomposed body. How did he do it? By his false teeth, of course! When Revere was a dentist, he bypassed standard wooden dentures and used ivory dentures for Warren.
The Amazing 1800s
Dentistry in the 1800s marked a significant turning point for teeth everywhere, but mostly in America. The first dental school, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, opened in 1840, followed by the first dental practice in Alabama the following year.
In 1859, twenty-six dentists met in New York to establish the American Dental Association (ADA). The following years saw several more firsts, including the first university-affiliated dental school, the first women dentists, and the first x-ray.
Establishing Modern Dentistry
As humans began to understand the causes of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral abnormalities, dentists developed new treatments and methods. Some of the most exciting include the development of crowns and the history of dental implants.
Developing Modern Dental Crowns
Dental crowns were some of the first treatments dating back several thousand years. Archeologists have located skeletons with gold-capped teeth in several parts of the world, but over time, people used alternate materials. As technology improved, dentists identified better materials, including porcelain and ceramic.
History of Dental Implants
Despite a long history of dentures and dental fillings, humans struggled to safely replace missing teeth for centuries. Even ancient civilizations attempted to replace missing teeth with ones from animals or other people, gems, shells, and anything they could find in some cases. However, risks of infection and rejection were high, and the replacement often failed.
It wasn’t until the 1900s that dental implants became a possibility. An orthopedic surgeon actually placed the first dental implant in 1965, a feat that opened the door to modern dental implants that have excellent long-term success.
The Importance of Preventative Dental Care
One of the strong themes throughout the history of dentistry is the need for preventative dental care and solid oral care routines. If there’s one thing we learned from history, brushing teeth, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly are all critical to maintaining your oral health.