Dentistry Before the 21st Century

Posted .

Here at Letitia M. Williams, DDS, LLC, we love sharing our knowledge of dentistry. If you’re a history buff or you’re fascinated by scientific progression, you’ll enjoy this brief account of the evolution of dentistry.

The first known dentist was an Egyptian scribe by the name of Hesy-Re, who lived around 2600 B.C.. His tomb includes the title “the greatest of those who deal with teeth.” Other prominent historical figures such as Aristotle and Hippocrates listed toothache treatments in their writing.

Throughout most of history, procedures were performed by specialized barbers known as “lay barbers,” as dentistry was not considered a true profession until much later. Lay barbers used leaches, bloodletting and tooth extractions to treat tooth decay, which they believed was caused by tooth worms.

In 1723, French dentist Pierre Fauchard, credited as the Father of Modern Dentistry, published the first comprehensive system of caring for and treating teeth. Fauchard also introduced dental fillings and the idea that acid from sugar can cause tooth decay.

Fauchard’s work allowed other dental professionals to contribute their knowledge, and dentistry took flight. During this time, dental x-rays came into use and the ADA (American Dental Association) formed in Niagara Falls, NY. John Baker is the first medically-trained dentist to practice in the U.S., and he passed his knowledge on to Paul Revere.

The 20th century produced Novocain, as well as the nylon toothbrush, water fluoridation, tubed toothpaste and mouthwash. Laser treatment followed in 1960. Dentists also took this time to perfect the methods used today.

For more information on dentistry, contact us 334.377.3778. Feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Letitia M. Williams and experience the art of dentistry for yourself.