It’s easy to take dentists for granted today, but easy access to a trained dental professional hasn’t always been available. Learn the history of advancements that make modern dentistry possible.
History of Toothbrushes
Mankind learned long ago the importance of keeping teeth clean. The earliest toothbrushes were nothing but twigs smashed at one end to create “bristles.” Toothbrushes with actual bristles first appeared in China, and Europe adopted the technology in the 17th century. Also, early dentists practicing in the American colonies advised their patients to brush their teeth.
Would you have guessed that the first electric toothbrush was marketed way back in 1880? But it wasn’t until just after World War II that the Swiss developed an electric toothbrush that was actually effective. It showed up in the US around 1960, and very shortly after, the first cordless models became available. These proved instantly popular with consumers and dentists alike.
History of Toothpaste
Ancient toothpaste ingredients included ground up seashells, powdered fruit, dried flowers, honey, and talc. Less appealing ingredients ranged from rabbit heads and lizard livers to mice and urine. Various recipes of decidedly non-minty toothpaste continued to appear until the Middle Ages. Some early toothpastes were so corrosive that they dissolved tooth enamel.
More modern toothpastes containing soap and chalk started to appear in the 1800s. It wasn’t until 1956 that Procter & Gamble introduced the first toothpaste with fluoride.
History of Fluoridated Water
The concept of adding fluoride to drinking water for dental health originated in the early 1900s. A dentist in Colorado Springs, Colorado noticed that many of his patients who drank water with high fluoride content had brown staining on their teeth, called enamel mottling – yet they also had reduced rates of tooth decay. In 1940, another dentist worked out the proper fluoride-to-water ratio for reducing tooth decay while preventing staining.
Five years later – about a decade before fluoride was ever used in toothpaste – municipal water systems began experimenting with fluoridated water. Grand Rapids, Michigan and the state of Wisconsin were the first. By 1951, substantial testing showed that fluoridated water reduced cavities by up to two-thirds, so the US Public Health Service urged every state to fluoridate its drinking water. Today, about 75 percent of Americans drink fluoridated tap water.
History of Dental Implants
Today’s super-realistic dental implants have come a long way since false teeth were first used. Popular history claims the first US president, George Washington, had wooden teeth, but this was not the case. In fact, because of the corrosive effects of saliva, wooden teeth aren’t even possible. Rather, Washington’s false teeth were extracted from the mouths of deceased humans and animals and crafted into implants he could wear.
This gruesome practice wasn’t the norm. Most rotten or damaged teeth were simply extracted, and gapped smiles became a way of life. Early dental implants – whether made out of genuine teeth from deceased donors or other materials like ivory, gold, or silver – had to be removed before eating. After all, the threads of silk or tightly coiled springs used to hold them in place weren’t very suitable anchors.
The late 1700s and early 1800s led to the implementation of porcelain teeth, platinum pins, ceramics, and other advancements. Dentists and technicians tinkered with the design, look, and feel of the teeth over the decades, eventually evolving into the dental implants we have today.
History of Anesthesia
One form of dentistry or another has been around since the days of early humans, but ancient civilizations extracted bad teeth with a well-paced chisel and the swing of a mallet. Greek and Roman civilizations abandoned this technique in favor of forceps, but extractions were still far from painless.
Fast-forward to the 1790s, when a British chemist began experimenting with nitrous oxide and noted its famous side effect: making patients laugh. “Laughing gas” became very popular over the next 50 years, and when nitrous oxide was combined with oxygen in 1863, it became a staple of dental surgeries.
In the last 1890s, cocaine was used a local anesthetic, but the need for a suitable alternative became apparent once the drug’s addictive qualities were recognized. A successful synthetic cocaine, dubbed Novocain, was discovered in 1905 and proved extremely popular with dentists and patients alike.
Enjoy Everything Modern Dentistry has to Offer at Evanson DDS
Whether you need a routine check-up and cleaning or pain-free restorative dentistry to keep your teeth beautiful, come visit Evanson DDS in Parker. Our amazing team always makes your smile our top priority.
To discuss your dental needs with Dr. Evanson, please call our office at (720) 409-0008 or schedule an appointment online.Leave a reply →