A Brief History of Dentistry
Modern dentistry is truly remarkable in how it blends art and science to produce healthy, functional, aesthetically pleasing smiles. In recent years, advances in general dentistry, restorative dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry have resulted in treatments that are safer, more efficient, and more comfortable for patients than ever before. At Astoria Dental Group, we are pleased to offer the most advanced and effective of these treatments, and we are continually integrating promising new technologies and techniques into our practice as they emerge.
Of course, modern dentistry as we know it would not exist without the centuries of progress that had been made in the profession leading up to the 21st century. While many people are able to point to George Washington’s “wooden” teeth (a myth - he had gold teeth, ivory teeth, and even animal teeth in his mouth, but no wooden teeth) as an example of early dentistry, dentistry actually dates back to at least 7000 B.C. This is when the people of the Indus Valley Civilization apparently used bow drills to treat tooth decay. We’ve come a long way since then…
We invite you to read the following brief history of dentistry, put together by our Queens, NY dentists, Dr. Clifford Degel and Dr. Carmen Every-Degel. Then, contact Astoria Dental Group to schedule your initial appointment at one of the nation’s most forward-thinking and thoroughly modern dental practices.
Dental History: A Timeline
This timeline represents just a handful of events that mark the fascinating history of dentistry:
- 5000 B.C.: The first text referring to tooth decay can be dated to this era, a Sumerian text attributing decay to tiny “tooth worms.” Over the centuries that followed, dental nerves would often be mistaken for these worms. It wasn’t until the 18th century that this concept was definitively proven to be false.
- 500-300 B.C.: Ancient Greeks Hippocrates and Aristotle both write about the treatment of decaying teeth, gum disease, and other oral health issues.
- 1200-1400: In France, tooth extraction as a means of eradicating tooth pain is introduced into continental Europe not by doctors but by barbers.
- 1723: The father of modern dentistry, Pierre Fauchard, publishes Le Chirurgien Dentiste, which is translated into English as A Treatise on Teeth. Fauchard brought to light many of the concepts upon which modern dentistry is based today, including dental fillings and causes of tooth decay.
- 1859: The American Dental Association is formed in Niagara Falls, New York.
- 1873: Although toothpastes of various types (including those that actually did far more harm than good) had been around for centuries, this is the year that Colgate mass-produced the first commercially available toothpaste in a jar. Within twenty years, collapsible metal tubes will replace jars as the customary means of dispensing toothpaste.
- 1937: The first dental implant, made of Vitallium, is placed by Alvin Strock.
- 1990s: Cosmetic dentistry becomes popular as advancements in dental materials allow for more durable and natural-looking tooth-colored restorations to be crafted.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation at Astoria Dental Group
Now that you know about the rich history of dentistry, we invite you to discover its glorious present by scheduling your initial appointment at Astoria Dental Group.