The History of Dentistry

By John Meola on October 07, 2016

Illustration of a toothIt is easy to take advantage of the many treatments and techniques that are available to dental patients today. Thanks to continued advances in dental care, we can treat the dental problems that cause structural and cosmetic complications. Restorative dentistry treatments allow patients to strengthen damaged teeth, while cosmetic dentistry services address aesthetic blemishes to enhance the beauty of the smile. What many patients do not realize is that these dental services are the result of years of study and dedication on behalf of the world’s first dentists. Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions, and one with a rich history. Here, we take a look at the history of dentistry to provide our Boston, MA patients with a deeper appreciation of this long-established medical field.

Dental History

The practice of dentistry can be traced all the way back to 7000 B.C. While there is evidence that the Indus Valley Civilization practiced dentistry during this time period, there is no written descriptions of tooth decay until 5000 B.C. At this time a Sumerian text cited “tooth worms” as the cause of tooth decay. There are various mentions of tooth decay and its treatment throughout Egyptian, Greek, and Roman texts, indicating that dentistry was an important practice even in these ancient civilizations.

Despite ancient mentions of dentistry, the dental profession as we know it today did not begin to evolve until the middle ages. In 1530, the first book dedicated to dentistry was published. It was entitled The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth. By the 1700s, dentistry was becoming a well-recognized profession.

In 1723, Pierre Fauchard published a book entitled The Surgeon Dentist, a Treatise on Teeth. This is the first book to outline a comprehensive plan for caring for and treating the teeth. Fauchard’s identification of the cause of tooth decay (acid from sugars), as well as his introduction of dental fillings and dental prosthetics, are some of the findings that have credited him as being the father of modern dentistry.

Important Advances in Dentistry

In 1840 the first school of dentistry was opened, shortly followed by the formation of the American Dental Association in 1859. As dentistry continued to be practiced, taught, and studied, more advances were made in the treatment of tooth decay and other oral health complications. Below are some of the most notable advances in dentistry:

  • In the 1880s, bottles of tube toothpaste began being mass-marketed and made available to consumers nation-wide
  • In 1887, the first successful industrial dental laboratory opened in Boston
  • In 1895, the first dental x-ray was taken
  • In 1899, the various forms of malocclusion were classified and in 1900, the first school of orthodontics was opened
  • In 1903, the porcelain crown was created
  • In 1905, Novocain was formulated
  • In 1937, the first dental screw implant was placed
  • In 1960, dental lasers were developed and approved for soft tissue work
  • Thanks to tooth-colored restorations, bleaching, veneers, and dental implants, the field of aesthetic dentistry began gaining wide popularity in the 1990s

It is thanks to all of these dental advances and the centuries of study preceding them that Dr. John D. Meola is able to offer his patients such a comprehensive range of dental treatments to safely and effectively enhance the strength, health, and beauty of his patients’ smiles.

Contact Us

Dr. John D. Meola offers his patients the latest dental techniques. If you’d like to learn more about our comprehensive range of general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services, contact us at your earliest convenience.

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