Though dentistry may have begun earlier, the earliest evidence of dental procedures were found in Egypt. Skulls dated from circa 2,900 BC have been excavated with small holes in the jaws near the teeth’s roots. These holes may have been used for draining abscesses. Meanwhile, the earliest dentist may have been Hesi-Re (ca 3,000 BC), whose burial chamber was inscribed with “the greatest of those who deal with teeth [chief toother], and of the physicians.” By 1,500 BC, Egyptian dentists were creating false teeth made from teeth connected by a gold wire around the gum line.
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In the Western world, Aristotle was among the first to have made a comparative study of teeth. Meanwhile, the Romans adapted the use of a “chewstick” from the Chinese and the Babylonians for cleaning teeth. The Roman physician Celsus was noted as the first to have used fillings for cavities in 30 AD.
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The Early Middle Ages saw dentistry-related duties fall to the monks who were the most learned in science and medicine at the time. But following a series of Papal edicts that forbid monks from performing any kind of surgery, barbers assumed the monks’ surgical responsibilities.
Dentistry became separated from general surgery in the 1700s when Pierre Fauchard published Le Chirurgien Dentiste, or The Surgeon Dentist. In it, he discussed all that was known of dentistry at the time, as well as the dental conditions and treatments for each. In doing so, he began to lay down the framework of modern dentistry, earning him the recognition as the “Father of Modern Dentistry.”
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Developments in science and technology went hand in hand with dentistry in developing procedures and techniques that were safer and more effective than those previously employed. Today, dentists continue the legacy of their ancient predecessors, and use advanced machines and equipment for various procedures that ensure that patients have strong and healthy teeth.
Dr. Domenick Coletti of Central Maryland Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is an expert in a variety of dental procedures, such as pre-prosthetic surgery and wisdom teeth extraction. Follow this Twitter page for links to dentistry news and other information.