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History of Dentistry 102: A Time of Texts

Back for another round of dental history? Last time we discussed the ancient origins of dentistry up through the Roman Empire, if you missed it definitely go back and take a look. For now, we’re pressing forward in time!

Most of our time thus far has been spent in the Western Civilization but make no mistake, all around the globe cultures were adapting and developing techniques to keep their teeth. A text from 700 C.E. China details the use of ‘silver paste’ presumed to be an early amalgam.

Back to Europe and moving 500 years forward. 1210 saw the creation of a Guild of Barbers in France. ‘Barbers’ refers to trained surgeons and people who performed more routine procedures such as bleeding and tooth extraction. The profession of the dentist is forming!

Germany. 1530. The first text entirely dentistry related is published. ArtzneyBuchlein or The Little Medicinal Book of All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth. The tome covers the gamut of practical dentistry topics: hygiene, extractions, drilling, and fillings.

The biggest take away during these years is the continuing of practice and beginnings of specialization. Knowledge was being solidified in texts and guides and transported across the globe. In France, another surgeon was about to make waves.

Pierre Fauchard published ‘Le chirurgiendentiste’ or The Surgeon Dentist in 1728. Fauchard was an innovative surgeon, improvising new dental tools from other trades. He began the process of dental fillings as treatment for cavities and suggested that acids derived from sugar were responsible for decay. In addition to all that he was a pioneer in dental prosthesis, developing a number of ways to replace lost teeth. Honestly, we could go on all day about Fauchard and maybe we will at another time!

Following Fauchard, dentistry exploded. More important texts in the field were published (Practical Treatise on the Diseases of the Teeth (1778) and Natural History of Human Teeth (1771))

All of these developments made a fertile plot for dentistry to grow. Come the 19thcentury; the trade was about ready turn into an entire profession. But that is a story for another time. We’ll pause on the history lessons for now and return to our more practical blogs for the time being. But don’t you worry, before long we’ll be back in class. Thanks for reading!