Dentistry is such a common aspect of healthcare today that most people never stop to consider the humble beginnings of this practice. The earliest evidence of dental knowledge dates back to about 5000 BC when tooth decay was described as having “worms” in teeth. In ancient Greece, great minds like Hippocrates contemplated the inner workings of the mouth. Still, it wasn’t until the 1700s when knowledge regarding dental problems and their causes reached a stage at which we had any power against them. Formal dentistry didn’t emerge until the middle of the 19th Century. Boy, have we come a long way since then!
We are proud (and relieved!) to live in a time at which dentistry is not a challenge. Innovation has led to solutions that were once unimaginable. Examples include:
The ancient Egyptians actually had their own version of dental implants: shells. We shudder to think about that procedure but have to applaud their courage and wisdom. The use of shells as replacement teeth indicated that humans recognized the need for stability. Today, we have a much more refined approach to tooth replacement. Dental implants, tiny posts made of surgical grade titanium, are commonly used to reinstate a functional root after tooth loss. This innovative technique has made it possible for patients to regain full chewing function and also to preserve facial structure through supported bone regeneration.
Sedation techniques have also been tested throughout the ages. In most instances, sedation was considered a valuable aspect of surgical medicine. Today, we see the benefits that effective and mild sedation techniques provide to dental patients. In our office, patients can remedy dental anxiety with the use of nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, or with IV sedation for more complicated procedures.
Cosmetic dentistry as a whole is a relatively new area of dental care. However, veneer treatment was first performed more than 80 years ago. The first veneers, used by Hollywood dentist Dr. Charles Pincus, provided temporary improvement for actors during filming but didn’t last much longer than that. Today, we have durable dental porcelain and a proven bonding technique that allows patients to enjoy veneers for upwards of 15 years.