Dentistry – the past, present and future

Dentistry – the past, present and future

Dr Sharad Patel looks at the future of cosmetic dentistry, and its history.

Dental care has been around for millennia, but cosmetic dentistry as we know it is relatively new.

Prehistoric remains show evidence of dental floss and toothpick grooves, and as long ago as 500BC toothpaste was being used in India and China, with the latter making toothbrushes out of pig hair. By 700BC we know the Etruscans were making false teeth out of ivory and bone, secured into the mouth by gold bridgework; but the Romans only used poorly fitting dentures, sometimes made from boxwood, and physicians used crude forceps for extractions.

It was during the Roman period that toothache sufferers gained their own patron saint. Apollonia. She stood up for her Christian faith, but a mob broke her teeth and burnt her alive. As she died she called out that those who have toothache could invoke her name and be relieved of suffering.

Jump forward to the 18th century and the term ‘dentist’ first appeared when Frenchman Pierre Fauchard published his book, ‘The Surgeon Dentist’ in 1728. Indeed it was the French who were the first Europeans to promote toothbrushes. Yet although straightening and extraction had been practiced from the beginning, it wasn’t until the 1800s that orthodontics as a profession took off and great strides were made. It was during this century that the dental chair and first electric dental drill were patented, and by the end of the 1800s, Edward Angle had created a classification system to describe how crooked teeth were, and how they fitted together, which is still in use today.

Today’s well-regulated dental profession is a far cry from the days when the local blacksmith might be called upon to extract your tooth. Now technology is making huge strides in improving dentistry techniques. We are able to use three-dimensional images of mouths to cut down risk and treatment times, and to decide where best to fit implants. Cosmetic dentistry is becoming more accessible, and at SpectrumSmiles we’re at the forefront of this new era, where treating the person as a whole, the holistic approach, is the future of dentistry.

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