Dentistry is the science surrounding dental care and implementing dental treatments for oral health. During its history, there have been a myriad of primitive dental treatments to assist in dental health (including letting mice run on teeth, bloodletting by the local barber and tooth extractions sans anesthesia). Additionally there are aslo amazing examples of pristine work including dental implants and the use of ancient dental drills.
As with any science, the history of dental care is filled with trial and error. While tales regarding the belief that tooth worms caused dental decay were widespread and common, so were dental health theories and treatments that were way before there time. Over time various archeological digs have unearthed skulls featuring amazing feats of dentistry, proving that for more than 9,000 years, many has been working to maintain dental health.
9,000 Year Old Dentistry in Pakistan
The land that forms modern day Pakistan has been home to a plethora of ancient cultures including the advanced, Indus Valley Civilization. One researcher team examined skulls excavated from a graveyard in the country’s Baluchistan region. Carbon dating revealed those bones to over 9,000 years old and a closer study revealed that 11 skulls had nearly perfectly drilled dental holes in their teeth. This discovery has indicated that the art of dentistry is actually 4,000 years older than previously estimated.
According to reports, the reason for the drilled holes are unknown, but the fact that it was not just for decoration is clear as some of the teeth were hard to reach molars. One of the holes was one-seventh of an inch (3.5 millimeters) deep, which is quite unfathomable for a time when sedation dentistry was not an option. (http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/04/70599)
Greeks, the First Orthodontists
During the reign of the Greek Empire, Hippocrates and Aristotle were known as having some of the biggest brains out there. Hippocrates was an ancient physician (known for being the force behind the Hippocratic Oath still upheld in the medical community today) and Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath. Together, the two often discussed malocclusion and how gentle force could be applied to gradually shift teeth. Those chats and their early experimentation helped pave the wave for today’s field of orthodontics.
The two produced some of the earliest writing about dentistry and explored topics including the pattern in which teeth erupted and gum disease. Rumor has it the two also performed work on teeth impacted by tooth decay, tooth extractions and used wires to stabilize teeth and jawbones.
Facial hair is a favorite male accessory, but the need for soldiers to be clean shaven (as decreed by Alexander the Great) helped launch barbers as a major profession. With each new generation of leaders, barbers evolved to deliver the hottest trend and they were completely content with everything hair until the clergy (the medical experts of the 1100 century) needed their help with bloodletting (the cure for all ails of the time period). Only after the clergy were banned from drawing blood at the council of Tours in 1163, did the burden fall onto barbers. Eventually, they also became the folks responsible for implementing dental care (http://www.barberpole.com/artof.htm).
For hundreds of years, barbers provided those in need with tooth extractions to stop pain and remove teeth that had chronic infections. That changed when patients complained that the barber delivered dental treatments were making them sick and British Parliament officially severed the alliance between the barbers and surgeons in June, 1745.
Fortunately, patients looking to get dental care in the here and now, do not have to rely on any of the primeval practices of yesterday. Instead, contemporary dental clinics are staffed with dentists who are licensed and properly educated in medicine and the oral cavity and equipment to make dental treatments as quick, easy and painless process.