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October 4th, 2018

Dental History: When Did Preventive Dentistry Start?

Category: dental health

taking a look at dental history hagen dds

Did you realize that dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions?

A man named Hesy-Re, who seemed to have the title “Great one of the ivory cutters,” is thought to be the first official dental practitioner.

the first dentist history blogHe was also an Egyptian scribe. So, in some ways, he could be seen as the first dentist…way back in 2650 B.C. (2)

So we know that people were concerned with their teeth thousands of years ago.

And, we also know that one of the first books that focused solely on dental health and dentistry principles came out around 1530. The title?  “The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth.” What a title!

Despite how people recognized value in taking care of their teeth, they didn’t always get it quite right.

For example: Back in 5000 B.C., Sumerian culture fostered the idea that worms were a cause of dental decay! That idea was finally proven to be inaccurate, but it wasn’t until the 1700s.

It was also around that same time that a lot more advancements and focus came to the field of dentistry in general. Let’s take a closer look.

Finding Out that Sugar Leads to Tooth Decay

It was around that time—in the 1720s—when a man named Dr. Pierre Fauchard published a book called “The Surgeon Dentist, a Treatise on Teeth.”

Again, this was a major milestone, and what he suggested was pretty pivotal. One key learning: acids from sugar significantly contribute to and lead to tooth decay.

The book had major insights in it regarding comprehensive oral care, including steps that can be taken to prevent oral health issues. This book put forward such revolutionary ideas that Dr. Fauchard, who was in fact a surgeon, is often cited as the Father of Modern Dentistry (2, 3, 4, 5).

New Ideas About Dental Health

Dr. Fauchard also introduced fillings and other ways of dealing with cavities and severe decay.

Around 1740, a man named Claude Mouton started talking about the idea of a gold crown. He even suggested ways to make the gold crowd more attractive in the mouth!

It was in 1760 when Dr. John Baker came around and made his mark in dental history. Dr. Baker came to America from England. After he made the move, he was the first medically-trained dentist to practice dentistry in the states. So, using that definition, he was arguably our nation’s first dentist.

One of the people he trained to be a dentist was Paul Revere. Dr. Revere then made history in the Battle of Breed’s Hill where he examined a friend’s teeth to verify his death.

This was in 1776, and that’s our first known case of dental forensics after death.

A few other major milestones in the coming years:

  • 1789: Nicolas Dubois de Chemant received the first patent for porcelain teeth.
  • 1790: Josiah Flagg constructed the first chair made specifically for dental patients (2, 3, 4, 5).

The First Dental School

Another key figure that came after Dr. Fauchard and Dr. Baker was Dr. John M. Harris. According to the history books, he’s the who started the world’s first dental school.

It may surprise you to learn that this school was located in Bainbridge, Ohio.

Dr. Harris, who had previously lived in Cincinnati, moved to Bainbridge in the 1820s. A few years later is when he started teaching others as they prepared for medical school.

His approach included curriculum that included in-depth knowledge on how to take care of your teeth. At the time, that was quite unique content, and other medical schools, for the most part, didn’t offer those lessons for future physicians. (It’s not hard to see why many historians refer to Dr. Harris the Father of Dental Education in the United States.) (3, 4, 5)

Dental Schools Grow & Expand in Popularity

After learning from him, many of his students went on to further explore dental care, and still others also established dental schools themselves.

Even his own brother went on to become founder of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1840, which some deem the first official dental school in the US. About 5 years later, in 1845, the Ohio College of Dental Surgery—located in Cincinnati, Ohio—was founded. It’s pretty incredible to think just how much dental history we have right in our backyard (2, 3, 4).

Then in 1867, another milestone: the first university-affiliated dental institution, the Harvard University Dental School, was founded. About six years later, Colgate was mass producing its first toothpaste. After that, mass-produced toothbrushes were created and sold across the nation (2, 3, 4)!

dentist in cincinnati ohio hagen dental practice blog

More Surprising Dental Facts & Firsts

Despite a long history of people knowing the importance of taking care of their teeth, Americans haven’t always had great oral health habits.

In fact, good brushing habits really weren’t adopted until after World War II. Part of why: soldiers who had been stationed abroad had learned the concept and application of good oral health. When they came home, they helped to shift the American consciousness about oral health.

Since that time, here are a few other notable “firsts” in dental history that might also surprise you to learn:

  • 1960: The first commercial electric toothbrush is introduced in the United States. After that, the first cordless and rechargeable model is introduced about a year later.
  • 1962: The first time Bis-GMA (what’s used in many composite resin restorative materials) is first developed.
  • 1989: The first home tooth bleaching product is commercially marketed (3).

Preventive Dentistry Keeps Your Teeth Looking & Feeling Great

Give us a call to learn about what steps you can take to prevent (or reverse) dental decay. We’re here to help you with smile makeovers, full-mouth rehabilitation, cosmetic dentistry, Invisalign, and much more at Hagen Dental Practice.

We invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation or your next regular professional cleaning with Dr. Hagen by calling (513) 251-5500 or clicking the online scheduling button.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ada.org/en/about-the-ada/ada-history-and-presidents-of-the-ada/ada-history-of-dentistry-timeline
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277553849_Hesyre_The_First_Recorded_Physician_and_Dental_Surgeon_in_History
  3. https://www.adea.org/GoDental/Health_Professions_Advisors/History_of_Dentistry.aspx
  4. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/John_Harris
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Fauchard

 

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