Today’s dentistry has come a long way since its origins.  Just in the last couple of decades, I’m sure many of us can remember the little bowl with running water next to the dental chair to spit into… and the tiny square xrays you would see on the viewbox on the countertop.  Forward to 2017 and we are thankful to have the water rinse and oral suction, as well as digital radiographs and intra-oral pictures!

We will begin a 5-part series with fun facts and interesting inventions in the field of dentistry.  The following historical timeline is presented by the American Dental Association. Part I will focus on the ancient origins of dentistry.

Two donor teeth found on a 4,000-year-old mummy.

5000 BC

Sumerian text of this date describes “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay.

2600 BC

Death of Hesy-Re, an Egyptian scribe, often called the first “dentist.” An inscription on his tomb includes the title “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” This is the earliest known reference to a person identified as a dental practitioner.

1700-1550 BC

An Egyptian text, the Ebers Papyrus, refers to diseases of the teeth and various toothache remedies.

500-300 BC

Hippocrates and Aristotle write about dentistry, including the eruption pattern of teeth, treating decayed teeth and gum disease, extracting teeth with forceps, and using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws.

100 BC

Celsus, a Roman medical writer, writes extensively in his important compendium of medicine on oral hygiene, stabilization of loose teeth, and treatments for toothache, teething pain, and jaw fractures.

166-201 AD

The Etruscans practice dental prosthetics using gold crowns and fixed bridgework.

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