How Did Dentistry Begin?

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How Did Dentistry Begin?

Woman smiling at the camera while dentist performs dental work

Dentistry has been around a lot longer than people believe; archaeological finds have discovered ancient dental instruments and records dating back to 7000 BC! However, a lot has changed since then. Anciently, toothbrushes were made out of wooden sticks and boar hair; in modern times, we use nylon bristles in toothbrushes and metal instruments to clean teeth. As modern advances have led to better tools, we are able to clean, straighten and brighten teeth in much easier and safer ways. Find out the history of dentistry, how it developed in the U.S. and modern practices that you can benefit from with this guide!


Origins of Dentistry

Contrary to popular belief, dentistry has been around for longer since the last century. In fact, dentistry dates back to 7000 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization, making dentistry one of the oldest medical professions in the world. Archaeologists have discovered multiple evidences of teeth cleaning appliances, such as toothbrushes with boar hair as bristles and gold being melted down to create dental crowns. Dental practices were popular among other civilizations, as well, such as the Greeks and Romans. Aristotle even wrote about dentistry and other texts were created by less-known historical figures that described tooth decay and how tooth worms supposedly caused it. In 1530, the first book about dentistry was released in Germany, called “The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth”, by Artzney Buchlein, which helped educate the public about teeth, oral hygiene and gold fillings. By the 1700s, dentistry had made its way into the professional world with dentists and surgeons providing care to patients in local offices. During this century, another book was published by a French surgeon named Pierre Fauchard called “The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise On Teeth”, which described a comprehensive system for caring for teeth. He was the first to propose dental fillings and taught that sugar produced acids on teeth, which led to tooth decay.


Even after the growth and progress of dentistry in Europe, dental offices in the United States weren’t even established until the early 1800s, with the first dental college opening in 1840 in Maryland. Twenty years later, the American Dental Association was formed and the first dental university, Harvard University Dental School, was established. By the late 1800s, Colgate had already made its mark by producing the first toothpaste and began distributing toothbrushes a few months later. Everything up to this point became the base for the many advances that would eventually occur among the dental and orthodontic fields during the 20th century when technology boomed and dental practices became well known and established. 


Dental Advances During the 20th CenturyDental assistant learning how to perform dental procedures

By the 1900s, dental work was popularized but oral hygiene habits were not. Many believed that visiting the dentist was all you needed to keep your mouth clean and decay-free until soldiers returning from World War II brought with them the dental habits that they had learned abroad. Dental crowns were already in popular demand by the early 1900s and training programs for nurses and dentists spread across the United States. By 1938, the first nylon toothbrush was created with synthetic bristles, paving the way for similar toothbrushes that we still use today. A decade later, fluoride toothpaste was available on the market and most areas in the United States had introduced sodium fluoride into their public water systems. By the 1960s, lasers were being used in dental procedures for soft tissue work and electric toothbrushes were all the rage. During the 1980s, techniques to insert dental implants were incorporated into general dentistry practices and home teeth bleaching kits became available for individuals to complete outside of the dental office. Near the end of the century, veneers, bleaching, implants and tooth-colored restorative materials were being administered in nearly every dental office across the country, most of which we still use today.


General and Family Dentistry

Thanks to the technological advances of the last few centuries, we now get to enjoy the many dental practices that so many of our ancestors didn’t have. For us, it’s almost absurd to think that you wouldn’t take care of your teeth or go to the dentist, like they did in the past. It’s important for us to take advantage of the many opportunities we have to care for our teeth and prevent decay. Some of the general and family dentistry practices of the 21st century include:


  • Dental bridges
  • Dentures and partials
  • Full mouth restoration
  • Wisdom teeth removal
  • Teeth whitening
  • Root canals
  • Sedation dentistry
  • Sleep apnea treatment


Whether you have decay, a cracked tooth or want to brighten your smile, there are numerous options available for you to fulfill your oral health needs and get a beautiful smile at the same time. There’s no more guesswork about what decays our teeth and how we should care for them; the knowledge that we’ve acquired throughout history and in modern times provides us with the resources to keep teeth healthy and the comfort of knowing that you’re in good hands. 


Improve Your Oral Health With Our Help!

At Mountain Aire Dentistry, we specialize in general and family dentistry and can help your family get the healthy smiles that you deserve. After a thorough evaluation and cleaning, your teeth will be on the right track to success and healthy living. Call our office today at (303) 731-7755 to schedule an appointment!

291 E Flatiron Crossing Dr,
Broomfield, CO 80021

(303) 731-7755


When you visit our Broomfield dental office, your smile is our top priority. Our Dentists invite you to experience the difference a warm and caring team can provide for you and your family. Enjoy a unique and comfortable dental experience designed to bring a healthier and happier smile back into your life. We invite you to call or visit our Broomfield dental office and discover the exceptional difference we offer to those we serve.

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