Previous blogs have focused on how dentistry will change in the future. By way of balance it is high time to review the past and see how the industry has evolved over the past 500 years.
A great place to start is an excellent exhibition currently on in the Wellcome Foundation in central London, called appropriately Teeth!
We’re not sure quite what our patients or anyone walking past the practice would think of if they saw this style of window display!
This showcases smart ivory handled tools, plates for casting dentures as well as spring mounted denture sets to hold them in the mouth. Comfortingly the skills of the dentist are also boldly highlighted!
Meanwhile back at our dental history timeline here are some key milestones in the evolution of the dental profession…
Early texts by the Ancient Sumerians suggest that tooth decay is caused by tooth worms
The first known dental practitioner appears on the scene in Egypt named Hasy-Re.
Whilst Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Hippocrates documented their dental travails in 500 to 300BC, the next major dental breakthrough took place in 700AD when Chinese medical text described the use of a silver paste which alleviated pain. This is incredibly similar to the amalgams we use in modern dentistry.
In medieval times the barber was tasked with providing dental services and extracting teeth were part of their job description probably in a chair like this!
The headrest alone is fearsome enough, bit of a throw- back or should that be forward to the film… The Marathon Man!
Fast forward to 1790 when the first rotating drill was developed by John Greenwood. An adaptation of a foot treadle spinning wheel
Another milestone was reached in 1832 when James Snell invented the first reclining dental chair. Something now quite popular on beaches and picnic sites!
Lucy Beaman Hobbs
It is widely believed that Lucy was the first female dentist to graduate from the Ohio college dental school in 1866.
A major breakthrough in pain relief was made in 1905
The breakthrough was made when Alfred Einhorn, a German chemist invented the local anaesthetic Procain (which is now marketed as Novocain)
Just before the outbreak of World War 2 in 1938, dental hygiene was significantly enhanced through the development of the first Nylon bristle toothbrush.
The nylon bristle toothbrush was closely followed by the first electric toothbrush developed in 1939, however, these were not formally marketed until 1954 due to some obvious teething problems!
In 1955 Proctor and Gamble launched the first fluoride-based toothpaste Crest. This followed many years of research and controversy culminating in the addition of fluoride to drinking water.
Over the past 60 years the world of dentistry has been significantly enhanced through research into patient comfort care, pain relief and pioneering work in prosthetics and prevention.
For a view of how the future will unfurl please check out our previous blog on this subject