Ancient artifacts reveal that dental care has been practiced since cavemen roamed the planet. Grooves in the teeth of these long-ago inhabitants reveal that floss or picks were used. Humans have come far in caring for teeth, gums, and the mouth. The dental profession is well-established and hundreds of millions of people are regular patients. When these folks are not visiting their dentists, they are flossing, brushing, and rinsing at home.
Early Dental Care
Dental care practiced in 7000 BC involved the use of bow drills to cure disorders related to the teeth. In a 5000 BC Sumerian text, tooth decay is attributed to a tooth worm and this legend is mentioned in other civilizations including ancient India and China. The earliest dental filling dates to 6,500 years ago and is made of beeswax. Aristotle and Hippocrates wrote about dentistry including extractions, using wire to secure loose teeth, and treatments for gum disease and tooth decay.
Dentistry was not a profession during the Middle Ages or the 19th century so general physicians and some barbers performed dental procedures. Tooth extracting instruments have been identified as early as the 14th century, when the dental pelican was invented by Guy de Chauliac. This tool was used until the late 18th century when it was replaced by the dental key, and eventually, forceps.
Famous Dental Firsts
According to historians, the Chinese were using toothpaste as early as 500 BC but the rest of the world did not discover this product until the 1800s. Early toothpastes featured regular soap for cleansing purposes. The unpleasant taste was later replaced by abrasive ingredients such as baking soda. The Colgate Company was the first to manufacturer what we know as toothpaste. Johnson & Johnson was the trailblazer for waxed dental floss, which was preceded first by silk and then nylon thread.
When a tooth is extracted, it is often replaced with a false version. The first artificial teeth were reportedly carved from animal bones. According to some, the Etruscans were using bridges as far back as 700 BC but other reports pin this practice to 3,000 BC. Wood was later used and was eventually replaced by manmade substances including acrylic, porcelain, or plastic.
Development of dental tools, anesthesia, and supplies has made dental care much easier and less painful than it once was. Dentists use cutting-edge technologies to identify and treat dental issues. Patients enjoy pleasant-tasting toothpaste and floss, helping them to keep their mouths clean and healthy between visits.