A Comprehensive Look at the History of Dentistry

Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions with evidence dating back to 7000 BC. Learn about its history from hairdressers & surgeons to AI.

A Comprehensive Look at the History of Dentistry

Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions, with evidence of its practice dating back to 7000 BC. C. with the Indus Valley Civilization. It is believed to be the first medical specialization to develop its own accredited degree with its own specializations, and is often understood to include the now-defunct medical specialty of stomatology (the study of the mouth and its disorders and diseases).In European history, dentistry is considered to come from the trade of hairdressers and surgeons.

Many patients are surprised to discover how important a medical history is to dental care, as there are many interrelationships between general health and oral health, as well as drug interactions that affect dental care. For example, in a condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw, the jaw bone dies from a combination of factors and is associated with dental treatment that affects the bone, such as extractions or jaw surgery. Dental treatments are performed by a dental team, which often consists of a dentist and dental assistants (dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians and dental therapists). This education is followed by four years of dental school to qualify as Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).Anyone taking blood thinners should consult with their doctor before scheduling dental procedures that may involve bleeding. Other practices relevant to evidence-based dentistry include radiology of the mouth to inspect tooth deformity or oral discomfort, hematology (study of blood) to prevent bleeding complications during dental surgery, cardiology (due to various serious complications arising from dental surgery with patients with heart disease), etc. In 1840, the first dental school (Baltimore College of Dental Surgery) opened, establishing the need for greater oversight.

Specialization in dentistry is available in the fields of Anesthesiology, Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral Radiology, Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, Oral Medicine, Orofacial Pain, Pathology, Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics and Prosthodontics. In the UK, there was no formal qualification for dental treatment providers until 1859 and only in 1921 was the practice of dentistry limited to those who were professionally qualified. In 1728, French surgeon Pierre Fauchard introduced dental appliances. He also discovered that the position of the teeth could be corrected since the teeth would follow the pattern of the wires. Despite the limitations of primitive surgical instruments during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Fauchard was a highly skilled surgeon who performed remarkable improvisations of dental instruments. In 1839 Emeline Roberts Jones became a partner in her husband's dental office in Connecticut.

That same year epinephrine was added to dental anesthetics to provide a longer lasting effect. In the 1990s cosmetic and advanced dentistry such as teeth whitening, dental veneers, digital x-rays, laser dentistry, dental implants and crowns, Invisalign etc. became more popular. AI (artificial intelligence) will also become part of the future of dentistry for diagnosing dental problems by empowering computers to interpret scans and x-rays.