The Early Years Of Dentistry

We are familiar with the teeth, mouth, gums, and tongue. We know about common oral diseases and some remedies for them. But, do you know how the story of dentistry began?

The history of Dentistry is often regarded to have begun with the Indus Valley Civilization as early as 7,000 B.C. Archaeological findings from the civilization, which grew around the Indus Valley during the Bronze Age, suggested the use of drills made from flint heads to cure a toothache.

In Slovenia, a human mandible believed to be 6,500 years old displayed signs of using beeswax as a dental filling. The use of beeswax to fill exposed dentin and a vertical crack on a tooth’s upper part is the earliest known proof of therapeutic-palliative dental filling.

Accounts believed to be related to Dentistry, particularly tooth decay, from 5,000 B.C. were also found. The “Legend of the Worm,” a Sumerian text on clay, identified “tooth worms” as the cause of tooth decay. According to the text, the “worms” drink the blood in the mouth and feed on the teeth’s bone.

Although it seemed far-fetched if told now, the belief on “tooth worms” was widespread during that time that even medical historians of ancient civilizations like India, Egypt, Japan, and China propagated the “Legend of the Worm” as the source of tooth decay. Greek poet Home and French physician Guy de Chauliac also subscribed to the belief.

Egyptian high court official Hesy-Re is recognized as the “first dentist.” Having died in 2,600 B.C., the high court official’s mastaba, a flat-roofed, rectangular type of ancient tomb in Egypt, was initially excavated in 1861. However, it was only in 1910 and 1912 when the main excavation works took place. In his mastaba, a panel was discovered bearing the inscription “Chief of Dentists and Physicians,” which is the earliest known titles related to dental surgery and medicine.

Also, ancient Egyptian medical papyrus such as the Brugsch Papyrus, Hearst Papyrus, Ebers Papyrus, and Kahun Papyrus contained recipes for treatments of a toothache, loose teeth, and infections. Edwin Smith Papyrus, also an Egyptian medical text, provided an account of the treatment of jaw dislocation and fracture.

The Code of Hammurabi, which dates to 1754 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia, considered tooth extraction as a form of punishment.

Greek philosopher Aristotle and Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about dental-related topics like the pattern of tooth eruption, the use of forceps in tooth extraction, stabilizing a loose tooth using wires, about fractured jaws, and treatments for gum disease and tooth decay.

Around 100 B.C. in Rome, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a known encyclopedist, wrote widely on jaw fractures, treatments for a loose tooth, teething pain, and toothache, and oral care in his work De Medicina.

The Etruscans, which was considered a wealthy and influential civilization in ancient Italy, were believed to have used gold crowns and fixed bridgework as forms of dental prosthetics between 166 to 201 A.D.

Although accounts of dental practice have been present during the ancient civilization, it was in the Middle Ages when Dentistry has begun gaining position and being recognized as a significant practice which is distinct from general medicine.

What You Should Do With A Cavity-Infected Tooth

You get up every morning and often, the first thing you do is grab your toothbrush, squeeze a bit of toothpaste, and brush. Brushing has become a necessary everyday routine. We do not go out of the house without giving our teeth a clean.

It no longer comes as a surprise that the worldwide oral care market size was worth 27.02 billion US dollars in 2016 and is expected to reach a projected value of 39.47 billion US dollars in 2020.

Still, despite the rising consciousness about oral hygiene, tooth decay remains prevalent, affecting 18.6 percent five to 19-year-old children and 31.6 percent of 20 to 44-year-old adults.

Characterized by the breakdown of the tooth’s outer and protective layer called enamel, tooth decay or dental cavity developed through the production of acids by bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria feed on the foods lingering inside the mouth and produce acids which in turn attack the enamel.

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The protective layer then weakens and lose its minerals. When the attack on the enamel persist, it loses its ability to repair itself, resulting in a continuous tooth decay process and the ultimate destruction of the enamel.

There are ways on how to prevent tooth decay from proliferating such as practicing proper and regular oral hygiene, using fluoride for added protection, eating healthy and tooth-friendly foods, using dental sealants, avoiding sharing personal hygiene items, and visiting the Lihue dentist at least twice a year for check-up and cleaning.

What if my tooth decay is no longer preventable?

When dental cavity has damaged the tooth and its case become irreversible, it can pose health problems as the teeth function as a support of the jaw and gum tissue, as well as, a chewing musculature.

A cavity-infected tooth can also affect the smile aesthetics and result to self-consciousness and lower self-esteem.

To prevent further damage and to repair the tooth before it becomes unrestorable, a dental filling is needed to retain its normal function and shape.

What is a dental filling?

A dental filling is a type of restorative material utilized in the repair of a decayed, cracked, or broken tooth.

Various materials like gold, amalgam, composite resins, and porcelain are used as dental fillings and dependent on the degree of repair needed, your body’s reception on the material, the area of the tooth in need of filling, and your financial capability to pay for the material.

Gold fillings are the best material as gum tissues tolerate the material well and can last for more than 20 years. However, these fillings are also the most expensive.

On the one hand, amalgam fillings are resistant to wear and can withstand biting forces. The downsides of these fillings are its conspicuous nature and safety concerns about the use of mercury.

Composite resins are commonly used for their tooth-colored appearance which is a mixture of plastic and glass. However, they do not last long, are prone to wear and stains, and not ideal for large decay.

Alternatively, porcelain or ceramic fillings are more stain-resistant that composite resins and can last more 15 years. But, these fillings are also costly.