Dental care practices have come a long way over the centuries in both comfort and effectiveness. Even though people have been trying to take care of their teeth since the dawn of civilization, dental care as you know it is a pretty recent innovation. Here are just a few examples of tooth care trends of days past that will give you a new appreciation for modern dental cleaning and exams.
How Dental Cleaning and Exams Have Changed Over the Centuries (for the Better)
The Tooth Worm
In the ancient era, our understanding of dental health wasn’t nearly as developed. The earliest known theory was that tooth pain and decay were caused by tooth worms. This belief stemmed from the fact that cavities resemble the holes of those left by worms in apples.
In these early stages, exams were not focused on cleaning but removal of the worm. Some cultures mistook the tooth’s nerve for the worm. Strangely enough, removing this did help, as the nerve was usually the source of the pain.
The first known mention of tooth worms was in a cuneiform tablet in Sumer, Mesopotamia, from 4000 BCE. This eventually spread to other cultures across Asia and Western Europe before being debunked as superstition during the Enlightenment era.
Medical One-Stop Shop
The title of dentist wasn’t always so difficult to achieve. In the medieval era, most surgical and dental procedures were performed by the same person. The barber. These earliest European dentists were usually illiterate and learned the trade as apprentices.
Cleaning and preventative care was not the focus of these ancient dental exams. The most common dental procedure they would perform were tooth extractions, the accepted cure for a toothache.
Dentistry wouldn’t start to develop into its own unique field of medicine until French surgeon, Pierre Fauchard, published his book, The Surgical Dentist, in 1728.
Ancient Tooth Pastes
Toothpaste has been around for millennia, but it didn’t always have that minty fresh flavor.
Ahead of the curve in almost everything, the Egyptians used a powdered “toothpaste” around 5000 BCE. Other prominent cultures, like the Chinese, caught up in 500 BCE. However, these pastes were abrasive and far from pleasant. Some common ingredients were eggshells, crushed bones, oyster shells, and charcoal.
Toothpaste took on its smoother texture in 1850 and started being mass-produced in 1873. This early toothpaste usually contained soap, which was common until as late as 1945.
The Evolution of Toothbrushes
The first tool resembling today’s toothbrushes started springing up in China in the 15th century. These contained pig bristles attached to a bamboo handle. Use of hog hair to brush your teeth caught on across the world, with horsehair and feathers providing popular alternatives. It was not until the invention of nylon that synthetic brushes came into use in 1938. Since then nylon bristles have stuck around, although the design of brushes has been changed to improve their cleaning ability.
Enjoy Modern Advances with a Dental Exam at Surf City Dental
Take advantage of the options provided by modern dentistry by scheduling your next dental cleaning and exam at Surf City Dental in Surf City, North Carolina. Contact our team at (910) 329-0298 to learn more.