If you’re anything like me, getting that reminder call about your upcoming check-up probably gives you the chills. “Didn’t I just go? It can’t be time already!” What is it about something as simple as a teeth cleaning that seems to ignite fear in even the burliest of men and women?
Some dentists near me in Calgary advertise their clinic as using no needles, promises no pain, and offers new technology, and it got me thinking about all the advances in dental technology that have happened over the years.
Not to negate the fact that being poked and prodded in your mouth and gums is a pretty underwhelming and uncomfortable experience, we’re pretty fortunate that modern dentistry uses such tools. To prove that, I decided to dive into the history of dentistry and paint you a little picture of what it used to look like. I can almost guarantee you’ll be grateful the next time you pay a visit to your own dentist.
It’s One Of The Oldest Medical Professions
Dentistry dates back to 7000B.C. if you can believe it! The first record of any such industry goes back to the Indus Valley Civilization, and in 5000B.C the first scripture regarding tooth decay was written by the Sumerians, something that they called “tooth worms.” Imagine your dentist today telling you that you have a tooth worm? Amazingly, that idea wasn’t declared false until as recently as the 1700’s, meaning that it took a very long time for any advancements in this field to happen, and we’ve come so much farther still since.
The Father of Dentistry
In 1723, French surgeon Pierre Fauchard wrote what is known as the first comprehensive book on teeth care and treatment and was highly influential in propelling dentistry to what it has become today. He was the first surgeon to integrate the idea of dental fillings and utilizing prosthesis, in addition to being the first person to identify that acids in sugar could lead to tooth decay. Imagine needing a filling in the early 1700’s and it not even being on your dentist’s radar that such a thing could exist, nevermind be vital to preserving your teeth’s health?
If you’ve ever had the displeasure of having your teeth pulled, you know it’s not exactly a walk in the park, but thank your lucky stars that we’ve developed sedation because that didn’t exist until the 1840’s. The way it came about is a bit of an interesting story. A dentist by the name of Horace Wells was in the audience of public demonstration showcasing the effects of nitrous oxide inhalation when an audience member under the influence of the gas severely injured his own foot by shooting it with an early model of what would become the Colt 45 revolver. When Wells noticed that the man wasn’t even aware of the injury until the effects of the nitrous oxide wore off, he started to consider how it could be implicated in his practice. Horace Wells would go on to become renowned as the “Father of Anesthesia” and we’re pretty glad that he was in that audience that day.
Nobody likes getting braces put on, but at least these days once they’re on, you don’t have to do much maintenance until your dentist gives you the all-clear to have them removed, leaving you with gorgeous, straight teeth and a smile that dazzles. Back in the 1700’s, if you didn’t live in France you were pretty much out of luck for any sort of orthodontic procedures, and if you were fortunate enough to be able to go to France for your treatment, you were subjected to regular adjustments (every 3 days.) in order to properly align your teeth, and afterwards you were subjected to wearing a chin cap made of leather in order to prevent dislocation of your jaw. Suddenly, braces don’t sound too bad now, do they?
Treating Toothaches with… Leeches?
Rest assured next time you’re visiting your dentist that they don’t have a fridge full of bloodsucking leeches eager to enter your mouth and tackle the problem area at the source; the root of your tooth, because that’s exactly what the recommended treatment of toothaches was back in the 1800’s.