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How Did People Treat Their Teeth in the Past? Here Is What Dentistry Looked Like in Olden Times

Today, there are state-of-the-art machines and handy tools to diagnose and treat teeth concerns. But how was it done in the Middle Ages? Since they relied on crude implements, people of the older eras had to treat tooth problems in basic ways that might have been harsh. Do we still use any of these old methods today? This article highlights the history of dentistry from centuries back.

How common were dental issues?

While there are many tooth-friendly products in stores, many people still have dental problems in our modern world. But what about the ancient Egyptians? Did they often suffer dental problems?

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Well, according to history, dental problems weren’t so common in ancient Egypt. Toothaches were reserved for a distinct class– the wealthy people. This makes sense since these wealthy people were the only ones who could afford sweets at that time.

What was the earliest tooth treatment?

Evidence shows that dentistry has been practiced since 7000 BC. The ancient Greeks, Chinese, and Egyptians had different dental procedures that were used to tackle the common dental issues faced then.

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One such practice was using materials like shells and bones to make dental implants. Since these materials were the closest to the teeth, they were probably the best in ancient times.

What factor was held responsible for tooth problems?

Of course, people in ancient times didn’t have the right technology to discover the many causes of tooth problems like we do today. This makes us curious about what they thought was the cause of their dental issues.

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The ancient men believed that ‘tooth worms’ caused dental decay. In 200 BC, the Chinese developed a system of filling tooth cavities with gold wire and silver. Estrucians, an ancient Italian civilization, created prosthetics with gold wire and animal teeth.

The Middle Ages: An era of transformation

During the Middle Ages, dentistry began to focus on dental hygiene. The Guild of Barbers, which included the practice of dental surgery and tooth extraction, was established. The first dentistry textbooks also came from this era.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

In the 16th century, toothpastes made of salt and chalk were introduced. The French surgeon Ambroise Pare also initiated tooth fillings made from gold and lead. The Middle Ages was a period of improved dental care due to hygiene.

The 19th century: A period of revolutionary advancements

Most of the former dental solutions were painful since anesthesia wasn’t discovered then. However, in 1844, Dr. Horace Wells discovered the anesthetic properties of laughing gas (nitrous oxide). This advanced pain management in the 19th century.

Courtesy: Freepik

Furthermore, Dr. Thomas Evans introduced porcelain teeth in the 1950s; then, Dr. G. V. Black introduced silver amalgam fillings in the late 1800s. Of course, these methods have been advanced- but they remain a valid reference point. This period provided the foundation for formal dental education as we have today.

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