It wasn’t so long ago that all dentists were using traditional x-ray methods to look at the inside of your mouth. Now, the shift has been towards digital imaging, which produces 80% less radiation. Every year or so, we discover new dental technology that makes life so much easier and safer. Imagine what it must be have been like like eons ago when dentistry was new and dental tools were at their most basic.

History of Dentistry

Before modern dental tools, people who had dental problems would be hesitant to go see a dentist. If you think a root canal is no fun, think what it would have been like thousands of years ago. You’d be greeted by the sight of crude implements. A discovery, in the 90’s, of hollowed ancient teeth in Tuscany, Italy showed researchers that some sort of operation had been done — with sharpened stones!

The teeth mentioned above were dated to be from 13,000 years ago, but that’s not the oldest proof of ancient dentistry. That record belongs to another Italian, who was found to have lived 14,000 years ago. He had a drilled-out molar that researchers determined was made by pointed tools to probe and scrape away at the infection. 

Some scientists believe that dentistry came about from the “toothpicking” habit of Paleolithic people. Ancient people engaged in the practice, and it would not be a big leap to go from picking teeth to removing decay.

Key Highlights in Dentistry

  • 14,000 years ago – Early dentists were scraping away infection using pointed stones and stuffing hollowed teeth with bitumen.
  • 5000 B.C. – A Sumerian text describes “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay (only proven false in the 1700s!). 
  • 2600 B.C. – The first known dentist and physician is an Egyptian named Hesy-Re. His epitaph reads, “The greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.”
  • 1700-1550 B.C. – The Ebers Papyrus lists down different tooth diseases and their treatments.
  • 500-300 B.C. – Hippocrates and Aristotle write about dentistry, specifically tooth decay, tooth extraction, jaw fractures, and gum disease.
  • 7 B.C. – Etruscans invent dentures made out of human or animal teeth.
  • 1564 – Ambroise Paré invents ligature of blood vessels in place of cauterization.
  • 1730 – Metal dental “keys” for tooth extraction are introduced and gains popularity from 1770 up until the 1800s.
  • 1844 – Dr. Horace Wells realizes the implications for painless surgery using nitrous oxide anesthesia. 
  • 1860 – Forceps were invented to replace the tooth extraction keys.
  • 1868 – George F. Green invents the use of a pneumatic drill that was foot-operated. He later creates an electric drill.
  • 1896 – Dental x-rays are used.
  • 1899 – Edward H. Angle’s classification for crooked teeth is created, a system still used today.
  • 1905 – A device for injecting anesthetics is introduced.

Obviously, we’ve come a long way since then. The dental office is no longer a thing to inspire nightmares, but rather a safe place where you can find ease from your dental problems. And it will only get better as we discover greater and more useful innovations in oral care. In fact, here are some that are showing lots of promise in the dental field:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Smart toothbrush
  • Augmented reality 
  • 3D Printing
  • Intra-oral camera
  • Regenerative dentistry

We’ve got all the modern tools!

Visits to the dentist can be fun and should be comfortable. At White Dental Studio, we have all the tools to provide you with exceptional gentle dental care. See for yourself how we’re different. Call us at  541-708-6288 and book an appointment now!

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