Dentistry has a long and complex history, with evidence of dentistry being practiced as a trade or profession as early as 9,000 years ago. Like many other medical fields, dental work was largely comprised of home remedies that were infrequently successful, such as herb poultices, potions, and folk practices. Until the modern period, the dentist’s most prized tools were those used to pull out teeth that had long been infected and were causing the patient significant distress. Preventing teeth from becoming infected, or even what infection was, was not understood, as bacteria were not discovered until the 17th century and not linked to disease until the 19th century. We can be happy that we live in an age where technology and scientific knowledge have advanced to a point that gives us modern dentistry. You can better understand how dentists are a blessing by exploring our history of dental work.
The Earliest Evidence of Dental Procedures
The Indus Valley Civilization in modern-day India has yielded many clues about early-civilization technology, culture, and everyday life. Some dental tools were found in excavations of sites around the Indus River Valley, accompanied by human teeth. The earliest filling, put inside a tooth to prevent a cavity from becoming bigger, was made out of beeswax and discovered in what is now Syria.
All early dental finds attest to the fact that dentistry was often seen as a way to pull out already-rotten teeth or put replacement teeth, made out of ivory, wood, or other materials, in the place of removed teeth. Because people didn’t understand what caused cavities or gum disease (Roman authors even theorized that microscopic worms were responsible for tooth decay), dentistry didn’t advance until the advent of understanding of the germ and disease correlation.
The Discovery of Germs and Their Role in Disease
The Germ Theory of Disease was created in the late 19th century. It’s amazing to realize how new modern medicine really is. It wasn’t until this point that people began to understand that microorganisms invisible to the eye were responsible for diseases. Plaque was soon discovered to be responsible for tooth decay. This substance is a mix of bacteria, acid, and food particles and it clings to teeth, causing erosion of enamel and serious tooth problems.
With the understanding that food particles feed bacteria, and bacteria causes tooth decay, dentists began to recommend that people brush and floss twice a day, in order to flush out the unwanted visitors and protect teeth.
Modern Medicine and Technology
We are all lucky to have modern dentistry and technology. Today, x-rays can show tooth problems in detail, even before they seriously compromise the teeth, and polishers, drills, and many other electronic gadgets have seriously improved how dentists get rid of decay. Advanced filling and sealant technology, like ceramic material to fill holes, has created a way for teeth to be protected after having problems. Anesthesia and numbing have been developed to make tooth extraction and root canals much less painful. We offer all the latest modern ways to fight tooth decay, and we’re happy to have learned from history.