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The Weird History of Dentistry

The Weird History of Dentistry

Teach your kids a little bit about where dentistry came from, and how it has changed over thousands of years of history!

When you visit the dentist’s office twice a year and see all the high tech gadgets dentists these days use to take care of your teeth, it may surprise you to learn that the history of dentistry spans way, WAY back.

We’re talking 25,000 years, in fact – and that’s just what we know about.

The first evidence we have of dental decay and fillings dates back 25,000 years. People in ancient Egypt were documenting their cavities, dental diseases and dental fillings thousands and thousands of years before you, your parents, your grandparents, and even your great grandparents ever existed. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it!

In ancient Egypt, loose teeth were either packed or filled with a composite filling material made from barley, honey and some antiseptic. The subjects of the Pharaoh drank various syrups, mixtures and even used mouthwash to maintain oral hygiene, relieve pain and stop inflammation.

In ancient China, people did all sorts of peculiar things to take care of their teeth. Sometimes, they’d even use animal urine and feces to treat dental disorders and tooth pain… gross!

They used a tea-based mixture as mouthwash or spices to freshen breath, and made toothbrushes out of twigs and horse tail hair or the bristles from pigs’ necks.

From ancient times until surprisingly recently, dentures were made from all sorts of materials, ranging from ivory and other types of bone, to wood and even human teeth that had been removed.

Also up until surprisingly recently, there was no such thing as a dentist, as such. Instead, monks would perform dental procedures, and after them, it was the town barber’s job to take care of teeth (as he had all the necessary sharp, pointy instruments already)!

It wasn’t until the 19th century that dentistry started to be taken seriously as a style of medicine. The very first dental college, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, opened on February 1, 1840. This college still exists today!

Today, as you probably know, dentistry has progressed by leaps and bounds. We have much better materials for filling and fixing teeth, more effective whitening agents, and the ability to perform dental procedures painlessly thanks to anesthetics and numbing agents.

So next time you have to visit the dentist, thank your lucky stars that you get to do it in this day and age!

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