Schools Training

The Early Developments in Dentistry Practices

27 JUN 2012
Career Path : Dental Care

Every dental assistant should be equipped with a good sense of the history of dentistry. From marinating earth worms to make mouthwash and making toothpaste with crushed brick, dentistry practices have evolved considerably since their beginnings, and there are notable points in history that led to the most significant advances within the industry as a whole.

Ancient Hygiene

Before the minty fresh toothpaste we are all used to, our ancient predecessors opted for a slightly more aggressive concoction. Up until the early 1900s, toothpaste was considered most effective if it was made of abrasives, such as crushed brick, bones and oyster shells.

Mouthwash was no picnic either. Ancient Romans held dental hygiene in high regard, and went to great lengths to ensure their mouths were the cleanest. Along with using toothpaste with rough ingredients, they also used mouthwash that was made of earth worms marinated in vinegar. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician, spared himself the earth worms and tackled bad breath with a more appealing tonic, which consisted of anise seed oil, myrrh and white wine.

The First Toothbrush

Before the days of the toothbrush, people used alternative tools to clean their teeth, including a rag covered in salt, or wooden sticks (Imagine how long it took to clean each tooth with a tiny stick. Now that is what I call dedication!)

It was not until 1780 when the first resourceful toothbrush was introduced by William Addis, who used animal bone and tufts of animal hair to assemble the first prototype of what would become the standard design for toothbrushes. Because dental hygiene was still in regular practice, it took more than a hundred years after Addis’ design for toothbrushes to become mass produced.

The Father of Dentistry

Pierre Fauchard is considered as the first legitimate dental surgeon. He was first exposed to medical practices when he enrolled in the navy when he was just fifteen years old. Dentistry was not an official profession at that point, and there was no such thing as dental assistant training or any sort of formal training, per se. Fauchard, therefore, became a protégé to skilled physicians, and would later become the father of surgical dentistry. He is pegged as being the creator of the first tooth prosthetics, original made of ivory and bone, and for presenting the filling as a treatment for cavities.

Texts on Dentistry

Up until 1828, there were no actual dental academies or dental assistant schools, mainly because dentistry was not seen as an independent profession. That said, many practicing physicians would learn theory and practices by way of mentorships and books.

While there is evidence proving that textual reference to dentistry is found in Sumerian texts that date as far back as 5000 BC, the first actual book that focused entirely on topics of dentistry was titled “Artzney Buchlein” and written in 1530.

More than a century and a half later, Charles Allen wrote “Operator for the Teeth” in 1685, a dental textbook that is the first of its kind published in English.

Visit the National Academy of Health and Business for more information on dental assistant programs.