The history of dentistry is very vast and complex, but this InfoGraphic explains some of the most important moments in the history of dentistry.
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Dentistry is one of the oldest known medical professions. It dates back to well before 2000 B.C when people believed that tooth decay was actually caused by worms that invaded people’s mouths and burrowed through their teeth. As the practice continued to grow through the centuries certain advancements have made life easier for people. The benefits of dental cleaning and health became apparent and important well before the modern invention of toothpaste. Though people still believed in tooth worms well into the time of the Tudors, that era thankfully ended shortly after. Through the 18th, 19th, and current centuries, dental medicine has advanced at an exponential rate.
Dentistry moved from mystics to more scientific in the 18th Century. In 1770 false teeth were crafted out of porcelain. Although this was not a perfect match for the strength of human teeth, it was the first attempt at making dental implants look like the natural thing. Pierre Fauchard, a French dentist was one of the first people to introduce dentistry as a science in 1728 with his book, “The Surgeon Dentist.” Following that, an English dentist named John Hunter published “The Natural History of the Human Teeth” in 1771. These texts were proof of the huge leaps that the science of dentistry was taking as an established medical practice. As it moved to a dedicated practice, Josiah Flagg invented the traditional dentist’s chair in 1790.
While gold fillings were available to the wealthy, dental advancements made amalgam available for the same purpose around 1820. Other patient centered advancements in dentistry included work to the dentist’s chair. Modern dentistry’s chair owes a lot to James Snell and then later to Basil Manly Wilkerson. In 1832 Snell invented the reclining chair. Wilkerson added hydraulics in 1877. Patient comfort was also aided by Henry Morton’s work in anesthetics. He was the first recorded person to use ether as an anesthetic in dental practice. Inventions like the clockwork dental drill and the electric drill also made patient safety and work precision easier.
The 19th century also saw the dental practice move to a true medical science. The Royal College of Surgeons began awarding a Surgeons License in Dental Surgery. The registry for dentists was arranged in 1879 to attempt to assure that practicing dentists had proper license. Only registered dentists were allowed to use the word ″dentist″ in adverts. You could still practice dentistry and dental surgery, but using the word ″dentist″ was forbidden unless you were an approved dentist. Some things that we still use to this day were invented in the 19th century. Toothpaste, for example was first invented in 1892. The first dental x-ray was used in 1896. Advancements to both have been continuous, though at their core, little has changed.
As the practice of dental medicine became more regulated, more people began getting proper documentation. Universities began giving dental degrees around 1901. In an attempt to secure the practice further, a law as passed in 1921 to assure that only registered dentists would practice legally. The National Health System (NHS) was born in 1948 and product use and care began to take leaps and bounds.