The Progression of Modern Dentistry

Dental diseases have affected people from the earliest of times, although primitive dental treatment has been practiced throughout the centuries, it was not until the late 1600s that it started to evolve and became a profession rather than a trade.



The arising of modern dentistry

From the 1600c onward, more structured medical writing started to take place, which is when modern dentistry started to shape. The British operator Charles Allen, in 1685, published the first ever dental textbook in English about oral health “The Operator for the teeth”. In this book, he outlined different remedies to clean teeth. He also discussed in full the concept of natural teeth extraction and the possibility of using animal teeth, such as dogs and sheep to replace missing teeth.

In 1723 French surgeon Pierre Fauchard, who has gone down in history as the “Father of modern dentistry”  wrote the famous textbook “The Surgeon Dentist”. When he described the theory of sugar-derived acids causing decayed teeth, thus diminishing the tooth worm belief. Fauchard proposed dental prosthetics to be used to replace missing teeth, and he was also the first to introduce dental braces, and that teeth position can be altered by applying a light constant force. 



Dental achievements through The 18th century 

The British scientist, John Hunter, one of the most distinguished surgeons at that time, made a huge contribution in regards to tooth transplantation. In 1763, he started to collaborate with another dentist to propose theories on tooth transplantation from one person to another. While conducting his experiment, he discovered vital principles for the success of this type of procedure, and some of these principles are still used today in organ transplant operations. 

Although researchers have found clear evidence of oral hygiene methods practised in ancient history that date back to 3500 BC, the toothbrush that resembles what we have today was not introduced until 1770 in the UK. It was invented by William Addis, the initial idea was to have a bone-made handle with an animal-bristle head. By 1840, Toothbrushes were massively produced in France, UK, Germany and Japan. It is interesting to note that, although the US started to produce toothbrushes in 1885, the Americans did not really practice routine oral hygiene until after World War II.



Dentistry in the 19th-century 

Dentistry evolved dramatically throughout the 19th century; the world’s first formal dental education and training began in 1840 when Baltimore College of Dental Surgery opened its doors in the United States of America. About a decade later, in 1858, the first-ever dental hospital that offers clinical training was established in London. Additionally, professional dental associations started to form; The American and British Dental Associations were founded in the mid of the 19 century.

Toothpaste-like mixtures were used in ancient history, but they contained basic ingredients like pepper, salt and mint. In 1873, the famous company Colgate started the mass production of toothpaste, it was first introduced in the market in glass jars. However, it was not until 1892, that Dr Washington Sheffield produced a toothpaste inside of a tube.

In this period, Cocaine was used as a local anesthetic agent, yet this was later stopped as cocaine was highly addictive and exhibited unpredicted side effects. A century forward, amid local anesthetics, were introduced to be used with dental procedures, and nowadays, they are considered the most effective and safest method of pain management. With this type of invention, dental treatments are made much more comfortable for patients.



Dental developments in the last 100 years

These years witnessed a rapid progression in modern dentistry; Fluoride has been advocated to strengthen the tooth structure and reduce the occurrence of dental decay, thus it was added to drinking water in 1945 and to toothpaste in 1950.

Although dental implants may seem like a new practice to replace missing teeth, the first-ever titanium dental implant was placed in 1965 by Dr Per-Ingvar Branemark in a patient, which lasted 40 years.

While amalgam was widely used as a filling material, a modern composite resin was developed by Dr Rafael Bowen in 1962, and ever since it is been the most-used restorative material for more than 50 years.

Invisalign is a breakthrough in the world of orthodontics, it was developed by two American students in 1997, they were aiming to give their patients discrete teeth straightening treatment.



Future dentistry 

The field of Dentistry has taken a huge leap in the past decades and new innovative methods continue to be developed every day. With the wide spread of technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, dental professionals predict that the prime years of digitalized modern dentistry are yet to come. 

Dr. Michael

Dr. Michael

MSc Implantology, Bonn University, Germany