From Monks to Modern Dentists – A Brief History of Dentistry
It is hard to imagine a time when there were no dentists to take care of that painful cavity or fix that chipped tooth. These days, we take for granted the ease of which we can reduce our suffering from painful problems. In 7000 B.C., when the first traces of dentistry were discovered among the Indus Valley Civilization, there were no dentists; only trial and error attempts at ancient dentistry. By 5000 B.C. many people believed the pains they felt in their teeth were cause by “tooth worms”. There has been evidence to suggest that the so-called “tooth-worms” was a belief that spread through India, Egypt, Japan and China. Dental surgery came along sometime around 1800 B.C.Sometimes tooth extraction was not done purely for relief of pain, but for punishment as well. All of this was done, of course, without any modern sedation or numbing techniques we are grateful for today. From the years 1700-100 B.C., many scholars recorded new observations about teeth including tooth eruption patterns, toothache remedies, treatment of decayed teeth and more. Hypocrites, Aristotle and Celus are just a few scribes who recorded this data. By the early Middle Ages in Europe, the profession was practiced by the monks. Monks were the most educated individuals in the middle ages. Historically, barbers would assist monks in their dental duties since barbers often visited monasteries in order to keep the monks heads clean- shaven. After monks were stripped of their duties as dentists, barbers naturally filled the need until they too were prohibited from practicing any surgical dentistry besides tooth extraction. From the 1500s to 1700s, research and published material of dental-related books was on the incline and would culminate in 1723 when Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon published “The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise on Teeth.” Pierre became known as the Father of Modern Dentistry as his book was the first comprehensive account of dentistry and treatments. Since 1723, nothing but progress has been made in the field of dentistry with one of the most important discoveries – fluoridation – and the most important invention – toothbrush – coming in the last 100 years! Now, we can go to the dentist and get a tooth fixed any time we want. Makes you thankful we are living in the 21st century doesn't it!