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 • Chester Hill Dentistry • 

May 3, 2015
7 yearsago

Your Westchester NY Dentist Shares Some Fun Dental History Facts

The truth about dentistry and teeth is that we have been striving to perfect the practice of dentistry for ages. People from all different places and time periods have experimented with keeping teeth clean and healthy. The main reason for this is that tooth decay causes really uncomfortable and painful toothaches that people would naturally want to avoid. Although we’ve come a long way in the field of dentistry, many of the techniques we use today like brushing and flossing are developed from a long time ago.

For example, the toothbrush was used during the Middle Ages by wealthy Europeans who used twigs made out of sweet smelling wood to clean their teeth. While your Westchester NY dentist doesn’t recommend brushing with a wooden twig, you can still see how even in the past, people attempted to clean their teeth. In fact, it was the Chinese who were using something much more similar to a modern toothbrush today. In 1498, the Emperor of China implanted hog bristles in a bone handle. This style of toothbrush became popular throughout Asia and eventually Europe. However, because of the expensive cost of hog bristles, poor people couldn’t afford individual toothbrushes so an entire family would share one brush. Believe it or not, Americans did not practice the importance of brushing teeth until well after World War II. The army enforced soldiers to develop the habit while they were fighting in the war and they ended up bringing the good habit back home.

Similar to toothbrushes, compounds for cleaning teeth while brushing have been used since ancient times. Early Egyptians, Chinese, Greek and Roman writings describe the process of mixing different substances and powders to create a paste for brushing. Some of the tastiest ingredients used in early toothpaste were powdered fruit, honey, and dried flowers. The most unappealing ingredients include mice and lizard livers. Modern toothpaste began to appear around the 1800s. A dentist named Dr. Peabody was the first person to suggest adding soap to toothpaste and fluoride was eventually added in 1956.

The earliest known dentist was Hesi-Re, an Egyptian who lived around 3000 BCE. From the 5th to 15th century CE, dentistry was practiced by “barber-surgeons” who not only cut hair and groomed people but also extracted decaying teeth. It wasn’t until between 1650 CE and 1800 CE that the science of modern dentistry developed. Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon, has become known as the father of modern dentistry. Of course, dentistry would come a long way since Pierre Fauchard, but we have dentists like him to thank for not having our teeth extracted at a barber shop. Yikes!

While the history of dentistry is much longer and extensive than this short blog, your Westchester NY dentist hopes that patients see just how far dentistry has come in the last several thousand years. Healthy teeth have been important to a number of cultures over a long period of time and it’s important to follow through with modern dental care. After all, you should take advantage of the modern advances and technologies in dentistry. We’re lucky to have anesthesia and sterile procedures now!

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