8 Shocking Historical Facts About Dentistry

Dentistry Shocking Historical Facts

There are many reasons to be thankful that we live in modern day times. Smartphones, automatic cars, indoor plumbing.  We could go on forever. The list of wonderful modern conveniences that we have at our fingertips is endless. Even dentistry has come a long way since its inception. Not all of it was bad; in fact, many of today’s practices are based on old findings from past dental practices. However, whether it’s good, bad or just plain shocking, there’s plenty of historical facts about dentistry that will blow your mind! Check out a few of our favourites.

1. Novocain Wasn’t Invented Until 1903

If you’ve ever had to undergo any kind of serious dental work, chances are that you were put under a local anaesthetic known as Novocain. It numbs the pain of most procedures, and while it can leave you drooling, it’s definitely better than suffering through tools slicing and poking your mouth. Thankfully, we live in an era where Novocain is commonplace. Imagine living pre-1903, when German chemist Alfred Einhorn invented it, and having to feel everything!

2. Barbers Used to Pull Teeth

Sometimes, one-stop shops are great. A petrol station with a built-in car wash can save you time, a department store that carries clothes for you and your child can save you a trip, but a hairdresser that also tends to your teeth might just leave you with more pain than you thought. We don’t know about you, but we think these are two professions that probably didn’t mix – especially since you don’t get your teeth pulled at the barber these days. Today, we’re glad to book two separate appointments: one for our beards, one for our bite.

3. Tooth Decay Didn’t Exist; Tooth Worms Did

Okay, tooth decay did exist, but it wasn’t called that. Instead, people as far back as 5000 B.C. referred to the breakdown of their teeth as “tooth worms.” Pretty disturbing, right? We’re more than thankful for today’s precise, accurate medical terminology in dentistry if for nothing more than the sake of our own stomachs.

4. Dental Drills Used to be Powered by Foot

Back in the day, you could only hope your dentist had some strong calves. Before the convenience of today’s drills and power tools, dentists used drills powered by foot pedals. George Washington invented the first prototype, powering the drill by turning his mother’s spinning wheel. Whether you’re a dentist or a patient, neither side of this situation sounds too great, so we’re thankful for today’s technology.

5. The First Dentist Existed in Ancient Egypt

Despite the interesting theories and terminology of “tooth worms,” even ancient people knew they wanted their smiles to look good. The first recorded dentist in history was known as Hesy-Re, a physician in 2600 B.C. residing in ancient Egypt. His tombstone was engraved with the words, “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” Not only was he the first, but apparently the greatest as well. Congrats, Hesy-Re!

6. Early Toothbrushes Were Known as “Chewing Sticks”

The first use of a toothbrush was by the Hindus of India in 4000 B.C. They took a fresh twig and frayed the ends into bristles. The Babylonians later named this the “chewing stick” in 3500 B.C. The first toothbrush similar to what we use today was actually invented in China in the year 1600. It was made of hog bristles. While the effectiveness of both the hog bristles and the chewing stick are debated, we’ll stick to our electric toothbrushes and mouthwash any day.

7. Tooth Extraction Cured All

The Middle Ages were a tough time for the medical industry. Knowledge was scattered, and trying to determine the cause of an issue was often a mystery too difficult for even the most Holmes-esque healthcare provider, thus leading to many cases of trial and error. For a period of time in the Middle Ages, tooth extraction was used to cure many aches and pains and was often performed by a monk and a barber.

8. Toothpaste Used to Come in a Jar

If you and your significant other have ever argued about how the toothpaste should be squeezed, maybe you should have been born in a past decade. Colgate massed produced the first toothpaste in 1873, and it came in a jar. While there was no toothpaste tube to argue over whether you should squeeze from the middle or the end, it was definitely an easy way to catch a cold if you were sharing your jar with anyone else.

As you can see, modern day dentistry has come a long way from its historical roots. However, not all dentists of today are created equal. Make sure you’re getting today’s top-notch, highest quality of care by choosing a knowledgeable and experienced dental practice like Mint St Dental. Find more information about our cutting-edge services in our dental clinic at the Victoria Park.