Several years ago I decided to take a trip to the dentist after skipping multiple appointments for over 15 years. I truly had a dental anxiety and had a hard time getting over my fears. Thankfully, my dental visit went smoothly with only four cavities identified. What I did find from this dental visit was that there was a great deal of new information and technology that I had been missing out on. Laser-based technology and digital imaging are just a few examples. With this blog, I want you to understand that you can get over your fears and learn about this new technology like I did, so enjoy the information.
The history of dentistry goes back a long way--farther than you might expect. In 5000 B.C., the Sumerians referred to "tooth worms" as the cause of tooth decay and attrition. Since that time, almost every civilization has developed techniques for dealing with oral hygiene and dental issues. Some of these techniques are surprisingly effective. Others seem like the worst possible approach imaginable.
Here are some of the more interesting dental practices used by humans throughout history. The good news is that you don't have to rely on any of these to preserve your dental health today--unless you want to, of course.
The first bristle toothbrush originated in China in the year 1498. Before that time, humans were forced to use other methods to keep their teeth free of food particles and plaque. While these human's diets were largely made up of vegetables and nuts, tooth decay and plaque were still an issue.
Chew sticks were the answer to this problem before tooth brushes came about. Simply put, people used to stick a twig or root in their mouth and chew on it. That's it. As the practice developed, people began to select specific plants and trees for their antibiotic and breath-freshening properties. In fact, some people still use chew sticks as a supplement to regular brushing and flossing.
This imposing tool was named for its resemblance to a Pelican's beak. Basically, these were the precursor to the modern day forceps--a tool used to extract a problematic tooth. When you look at a Dental Pelican, it's easy to see that comfort was not a primary concern.
Interestingly, the first people to use the Dental Pelican weren't dentists. Rather, barbers often found themselves using the Dental Pelican to remove teeth that caused their customers discomfort. Fortunately, this type of procedure is left to the dental specialists today!
Today's toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors and variants. However, in ancient Egypt, citizens didn't have much of a choice in the matter. Historians have discovered one of the oldest formulas for toothpaste in recorded history, and while it appears to be effective, it isn't very comfortable.
Two parts mint, one part dried iris flower, and twenty parts pepper make up the formula for ancient toothpaste. Modern dentists who've tried the formula report that it's effective but causes their gums to bleed. That said, it's probably an improvement over simply chewing on a stick!
In ancient Rome, urine was considered a powerful tooth whitening agent. Not just any urine, mind you, but specifically Portuguese bottled urine. Apparently, the pastime was so widely utilized, Nero placed a tax on it. And to think, we complain about taxes today!
The funny thing is, urine mouthwash actually works to whiten teeth. Ammonia does a great job of disinfecting the mouth and can make your teeth whiter in the process. That's why urine was a primary ingredient in mouthwash until the 18th century. Today, ammonia is still used to clean teeth--just not ammonia harvested from Portuguese urine.
Early dentistry was a process filled with trial and error. Sometimes, known remedies and traditional approaches simply did not work on a patient. In those cases, early dentists often turned to magic to destroy supernatural enemies that reside within the tooth.
This gives us some insight into early dentistry. For starters, early dentists must have held a high place in the early human civilizations. Otherwise, no one would have believed they would be able to perform mystical healing. Also, it appears that early dentists didn't have to worry about malpractice all that much.
There you have it. Everyone who walks around with white, pain-free teeth should be extremely grateful for modern general dentistry--that goes without saying. However, the next time you're dreading your routine check-up, just remember that your ancestors had it a whole lot worse!Share
2 December 2014