The field of dentistry has gone a long way since its inception. It dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization circa 7000 B.C., making it one of the earliest medical professions. However, reports dating back to 5,000 B.C. show that dentistry and tooth decay were known and present. People believed that tooth worms caused tooth rot, but dental practitioners proved this untrue in the 1700s. Dentistry has seen several advancements and modifications throughout the years. Its current use has developed to employ effective preventative and therapeutic care. It's a mad journey learning about dental history, so buckle up and join us for a trip down memory lane!
French physician Pierre Fauchard was dubbed "The Father of Modern Dentistry" by his 17th-century contemporaries. Fauchard created the concepts responsible for today's dentistry between 1650 and the 1800s. But did you know that barbers were the go-to persons for dental issues as long back as the Bronze Age (3500 BC)? People referred to early dentists as "Barber-Surgeons." They not only groomed people's hair but also performed minor surgeries. Barber dentists were known for pulling teeth to cure dental decay, but they could also fill cavities.
Going back to ancient times, humans have managed to clean their teeth. The ancient Babylonians and Egyptians were responsible for some of the first tools. Egyptians created dental tools by chewing and working twigs with the mouth. They were employed to assist in the removal of food particles. "Chew sticks" was the proper name for this instrument. The Chinese created the first bristle toothbrush during the Tang Dynasty (618 AD – 907 AD). The bristles of this toothbrush were most likely made of pigs' hair, while the handles were likely bone or bamboo. We now have a wide range of primarily plastic manual and electric plastic toothbrushes in various forms and sizes.
But, you might wonder, what about toothpaste? Ancient toothpaste address the same issues we face today. Keeping our teeth and gums clean, teeth whitening, and refreshing breath. However, the ingredients were vastly different from those used now. Powdered bovine hooves, ashes, and toasted eggshells were among the ingredients used back then, along with pumice. Crushed bones and oyster shells were popular among the Greeks and Romans. The Romans also added powdered charcoal and bark to give the toothpaste a taste boost and help with foul breath. Ginseng, herbal mints, and salt were among the Chinese elements, which were the most similar to what we use today.
The development of modern toothpaste started around the 1800s. The early versions contained soap and chalk. Although, after 1945, sodium laureth sulfate replaced soap to make the paste smoother, it remains a common ingredient today.