Some historical facts are fascinating, some are downright frightening. The history of dental surgery is a bit of both! After reading this article you will be so grateful for the advancements in the field of dentistry that you will most likely call your dentist immediately and make an appointment.
- Around 5,000 BC, the Sumerians blamed a tooth worm for the cause of dental cavities. They believe that these worms bored little holes in the teeth and then hid inside them. This idea about tooth worms was considered fact until about the 1700s!
- There is evidence that the ancient Chinese used acupuncture around 2,700 BC to treat the pain associated with tooth decay.
- Native Americans who used to grind corn in stone bowls, such as the Hopi tribe, found that the bits of stone that remained in the corn often caused their teeth to either break or wear away, causing decay. Their method of extraction was to tie a bit of sinew around the offending tooth and attach the other end to a large rock, then toss the rock over a cliff in hopes of pulling out the rotten tooth.
- During the Middles Ages, dentists did not exist but there were “professionals” who would extract a painful tooth for you. These were barbers who did no preventive care but rather used something similar to a pair of forceps and yanked it out. Anesthesia had yet to be invented
- A French doctor named Pierre Fauchard developed dentistry in the 17th century, when he discovered that the acids from sugars were the cause of tooth decay. He also introduced dental fillings as a treatment for cavities.
- Cocaine was the first anesthetic used in dentistry. Researchers soon started looking for a non-addictive source of pain relief. A German chemist by the name of Alfred Einkorn created Novocaine in 1905. He was actually looking for a safe anesthesia to use on soldiers during the 1st world war. It never took off in popularity on the battlefield, though it became popular for use among dentists.
- A variety of materials has been used over the years to fill dental cavities such as turpentine resin, stone chips, and various metals. The first gold leaf fillings were introduced in 1848.
- French dentists were the first to mix mercury with various other metals to make fillings for teeth. A dentist named Taveau developed a mixture that would bind to the teeth at room temperature in 1826.
- The first dental chair was patented by Waldo Hanchett in 1848.
- George Green received the first patent for an electric dental drill in January of 1875.
- The first dental college was opened in 1840 in Baltimore.
- Colgate produced the first toothpaste in a jar and in 1885 the first toothbrush was mass produced in America by H.N. Wadsworth.
- Believe it or not, most Americans performed very little dental hygiene until after World War 2. Soldiers that were working abroad brought the idea of brushing and flossing back to the USA when they returned home.
Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Fahrenheit Marketing, an Austin web design company. Zane is glad he’s never had oral surgery.