Archives for January 2012

Ancient origins

Dental history goes as far back as 7000BC there is evidence of teeth with dental drill holes! A Sumerian text from 5000BC describes dental decay being caused by “tooth worms”, a belief held well passed the Middle Ages. There is even a reference in Babylonian times of tooth extraction being used as a legal punishment.

With the Greeks and Romans came numerous publications on ways to treat tooth ache, extractions and gold crown and bridge work.

Ancient Origins Dentist Takapuna North ShoreDuring the Middle Ages dentistry was largely practiced by monks until a Papal edict in the 1100’s prohibited them from any type of surgery or extractions at which point barbers took over using their tools of trade! Village blacksmiths also assisted with tooth removal.

The 18th and 19th centuries saw the progressive development of dentistry as a profession along with the introduction of dental chairs, root canal treatment and varied filling materials including amalgam fillings. Ivory and porcelain teeth were set in materials like wood and even lead for dentures. Wealthy people even used to buy teeth from the poor to put in dentures…a practice which stopped as people often caught syphilis.

Towards the end of the 19th century came mass-produced toothpaste in tubes, chloroform and laughing gas, foot treadle and electric driven drills and even cocaine as a local anaesthetic in 1884! This was fortunately replaced with novocaine in 1901. By 1960 we had fluoridated public water supplies, hygienists, nylon toothbrushes, white fillings and the air rotor drill. Since then dentistry has developed rapidly with numerous specialist disciplines and dramatically improved materials and techniques. Astronauts even take dental drills into space for “emergency repairs!” Strong movements towards prevention, minimal drilling and cosmetics help make having a healthy beautiful smile for life possible.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2012!