A Brief Timeline of the History of Dentistry

November 22, 2016 — by Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky
Tags: General Dentistry Restorative Dentistry

Close up of a dental crownAt the cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry practice of Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky, we are pleased to offer our patients effective dental treatments using current techniques and technologies. We always keep one eye open toward the future, looking for new ways to ensure the comfort and satisfaction of our valued patients. However, Dr. Podilsky and our staff are also intimately aware of the rich history of dentistry, recognizing that the wondrous advancements that we use to restore health and beauty to smiles today are built upon the hard work of centuries past.

The known history of dentistry dates back approximately 9,000 years, to the Indus Valley Civilization. Researchers have found bow drills that they believe the people of the region used to treat tooth decay. We’ve come a long way since then, as tooth decay can now be treated without causing patient discomfort; however, it does show that people have been concerned with improving their oral health for nearly as long as they have had tools at their disposal.

We invite you to read the following brief history of dentistry provided by our Edmonton, AB dentist, Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky, and then experience the best that modern dentistry has to offer by scheduling your initial appointment at our cosmetic, restorative, and general dental practice.

A Compact Timeline of the History of Dentistry

  • 5000 BC: Although people don’t yet understand what bacteria are, they rightly attribute tooth decay to organisms eating away at the teeth. However, the Sumerian text that survives from this period describes these organisms as “tooth worms,” a phrase that remains part of the dental lexicon until the 18th century. Unfortunately, many dentists and surgeons mistake tooth nerves for tooth worms, resulting in some extremely painful procedures.
  • 2650 BC: The man whom many scholars credit as being the first dedicated dentist, Egyptian physician Hesy-Re, is practicing around this time.
  • 600: A Mayan woman had three shell fragments embedded into her jawbone to serve as replacements for missing teeth at around this time. Centuries later, her jawbone is discovered, representing the earliest evidence of dental implants.
  • 1210: The Guild of Barbers is formed in France. Lay barbers are the first professionals in continental Europe to provide tooth extraction as a treatment for tooth pain. They also provide the services we would now associate with barbers, such as haircutting and shaving.
  • 1723: The man now known as the father of modern dentistry, Pierre Fauchard, publishes his seminal treatise on dentistry, Le Chirurgien Dentiste. Many of the concepts introduced in this volume are still valid today.
  • 1844: Dr. Horace Wells sets the precedent for sedation dentistry by successfully using nitrous oxide as an anesthetic for the first time to perform a tooth extraction procedure.
  • 1902: The Canadian Dental Association is formed during a three-day meeting in Montreal, during which the constitution for the association is unanimously approved.
  • 1949: The first bonding resin is created, paving the way for modern dental restorations such as porcelain veneers and dental crowns.

Schedule Your Initial Consultation with Dr. Podilsky

2016-2017: It’s time for you to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky! Contact our cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry practice today.