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Dentistry Memphis

A Brief History of Dentistry

A healthy tooth in a shining bubbleDentistry's history dates back much further than many people realize. Although early dental techniques were very different from today's cutting-edge treatments, early pioneers in dentistry laid the groundwork for many of the procedures that we benefit from today. Thanks to the history of dentistry, we know the importance of preventative treatment for our Memphis, TN patients. At Southwind Dental Care, Dr. Timothy S. Messer offers a wide range of general dentistry treatments to prevent dental damage and preserve oral health. To find out which treatments are right for you, please schedule a consultation. In the meantime, learn how far dentistry has come as we take a brief look at the history of dentistry.

Dentistry Is an Ancient Practice

Evidence of dentistry has been dated as far back as 7000 B.C. to a Bronze Age civilization in the Indus Valley, an area that is now made up of Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Iran. By analyzing human remains from this era, scientists determined that areas of tooth decay were intentionally removed using flint drill bits.

Other ancient civilizations also practiced rudimentary dentistry, most notably the Egyptians. In fact, a tomb from 3000 B.C. is believed to belong to the first named dentist, Hesi-Re, whose tomb was inscribed with “greatest of teeth.”

Greek Scholars and the Advancement of Dentistry

Ancient Greek scholars, including Aristotle and Hippocrates, took an interest in dental health and developed methods based on observations of oral problems. The Ancient Greeks performed tooth extractions with forceps and used wires to keep loose teeth in place.

It was also the Ancient Greeks who first determined the teeth are made of bone with nerves and tissue inside. The Ancient Greeks were also some of the first people to clean the gums and teeth in order to prevent oral health problems.

A Haircut and a Tooth Extraction

During the Middle Ages, the neighborhood barber did more than just cut hair. In the Middle Ages, physicians didn't practice surgery, this was left to clergymen, but in 1215 a papal decree was announced, forbidding clergymen from shedding blood. This left surgical duties to barbers as it was believed that their skill with a shaving razor would serve them well in performing medieval surgery, including bloodletting, amputation, and tooth extraction.

The Birth of Modern Dentistry

Dental practices remained rather limited until the publication of French surgeon Pierre Fauchard's The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise on Teeth in 1728. Often credited as the “Father of Modern Dentistry,” Fauchard detailed how to care for and treat the teeth in this revolutionary text. Some of his techniques are still used today, such as cleaning the teeth, filling cavities, and using braces to correct alignment.

As dental techniques progress so did pain relief. By the mid-1840s, pain relief methods expanded to include the use of ether and nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” making dental treatment far more bearable. 

Dentistry Today

Thanks to the advances made throughout the history of dentistry, today's patients are able to enjoy the benefits of state-of-the-art and painless treatments. Modern dental treatments consist of a wide range of procedures to improve oral health and enhance the appearance of the smile. Today's patients can receive aesthetically pleasing tooth-colored fillings or enjoy restored dental function with dental implants for tooth loss. Modern pain relief methods, including local anesthesia and sedation, ensure patients stay comfortable no matter the procedure or level of anxiety.

Discover Your Treatment Options

To find out how today's dental treatments can benefit you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Messer.

Tagged In: General Dentistry, Tooth Extraction

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I have been to several dentists in the Memphis Area and I have finally found THE ONE!! Dr. Messer is the best dentist I have ever been to. I have complete confidence in any procedure that he performs and I can't imagine ever going to any other dentist.

-Meredith Page B.