Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dentistry History

Dentistry is a type of medicine which studies the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of different diseases of the mouth. Most people think that a dentist only works on a person's teeth but they are not limited to just the teeth they also learn to work on other parts of the mouth including the gums.

Evidence of Dentistry being practiced back as far as 7000 BC has been reported. The earliest dentistry was practiced in Pakistan by Indus Valley Civilization. These people used methods of curing teeth using bow style instruments called bow drills which were most likely used by skilled bead craftsmen. Information that was reconstructed showed that these methods where very effective at the time for relieving dentistry problems at the time.

People from southern Mesopotamia which is known as modern Iraq included some Sumerian text about dentistry in 5000 BC which talks of a tooth worm which causes problems with tooth caries many other countries believed this to be true including, China, India, Egypt, and Japan in ancient times.

Edwin Smith Papyrus which is a ancient Egyptian medical text talks about how to treat different dentistry ailments. This text was written in 17th century BC but some of the information might date back to 3000 BC. Evidence of skulls with holes drilled into teeth have been found between 2900 to 2750 BCE. During 3000 BC the first named dentist of ancient Egypt was called Hesi-Re meaning greatest of the teeth. Egyptians used gold wire to bind replacement teeth together.

Scholars from ancient Greece also wrote about dentistry and talked about the patterns of teeth structure as well as treating teeth with decay or gum disease using forceps to extract the teeth. They used wire setups to keep loose teeth from moving. Some believe the Etruscan civilization of Italy was the very first to use dental appliances like bridges around 700BC.

During the middle ages dentistry was not practiced and many physician's or barbers preformed dental extractions to alleviate pain from tooth infections. During the 14th century an invention created by Guy de Chauliac which looked like a pelican's beak was used to work on teeth into the 18th century and later was replaced by what is known as the dental key. During the 20th century the dental key was then replaced by the common day forceps.

Artzney Buchlein during 1530 wrote the first book which mainly focused on dentistry. This book was made into a textbook and written in English and called "Operator for the Teeth" which was published in 1685 by Charles Allen. It wasn't until the years 1650 and 1800 that science of modern dentistry was created.

Some of the problems with modern day dentistry is that some are skeptical about some of the history in dentistry and believe that dentists are quacks. Quite a lot of books have been published against dentistry and who can blame people when the foundation of dentistry is based on a theory of the 1880's which by power of vote was adopted as truth in the 1940's dispite having proper evidence to support the theory.

Part of the problem with the research in which W. D. Miller spoke about in the 1880's is that only part of his orignal theory is used to define current dentistry. What I mean by this is the definition of what causes cavities are isn't completely accurate to what W.D. Miller published in his book.

Jeans, P.C. A Survey of Literature of Dental Caries: Washington,
D.C.: National Academy of Sciences; 1952:251.
"The extent to which any tooth suffers from the action of the acid depends upon its density and structure, but more particularly upon the perfection of the enamel and the protection of the neck of the tooth by healthy gums. What we might call the perfect tooth would resist indefinitely the same acid to which a tooth of opposite character would succumb in a few weeks."

While if we look at what the American Dental Association has published as well as many medical websites such as the information from webmd

"Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities, or caries."

They leave out a very important part of the research which talks about a strong tooth not breaking down with any amount of acid. Which makes many of us question whether dentistry is based on fact or fiction since not even the American Dental Association has done farther research to learn more about the subject or provide a detailed argument.


  1. You can easily do the proper dental care of mouth. As only teeth makes the smile attractive, and for the beautiful smile you can go to the dentist in a routine manner.

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  2. Interesting history lesson, I actually didn't actually know about that and I've been practicing dentistry for over 4 years now. You know what they say, you always learn something new.

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