Modern Day Dentistry: How Has It Evolved?



Take a look through cinematic history and you’ll find dozens of horror movies that star evil dentists as their main character. Fears associated with dentistry can be sourced back to 7000 BCE in the Indus Valley Civilization. Many speculate that craftsmen invested a primitive form of dentistry using a drill made of flint heads to remove tooth enamel and rotting dental tissue. As horrific as this may sound in 2021, many sources claim that this ancient form of dentistry was in fact, really quite effective at getting the job done. As you can probably already tell, modern day dentistry has come a long way since 7000 BC. For example, the prospect of getting clear braces in the UK doesn’t inspire nearly as much fear - but how did we get here? Today we’ll explore how far the dental industry has come since then, so read on to find out more.

The Father Of Modern Dentistry
No story about the evolution of modern dentistry can start without mentioning the father of modern dentistry himself - Pierre Fauchard of France. At the tender age of 15, Pierre began his surgical training in the French navy. He took particular interest in oral health and eventually began working as a dentist in his later years. He earned a promising reputation as a dentist and truly paved the path for what modern dentistry has become today. 

Defining “Treatment”
Treatment in the 18th century consisted of only extracting teeth. This is the earliest form of modern dentistry in history and did not involve sedation of any kind...yikes! In fact, some of the first dental opiates used included Cocaine that was used to numb the pain of tooth extraction. Fast forward to the 21st century and dentists all over the world are now utilising Novocaine (widely known as synthetic cocaine) that was introduced in the 1900s. 

The Rise Of Dentistry
Dentistry continued to expand extremely rapidly throughout the 20th century, with an increasing number of schools and graduate programmes catering to dentistry starting to pop up all over the world. Fields such as oral pathology, maxillofacial surgery, oral radiology and prosthodontics started to gain huge traction in the mid 1900s, and the Royal College of Dentists of Canada was created in 1964. With this, dentistry expanded to include a number of various auxiliary workers, including dental hygienists.

21st Century Dentistry
Dentistry as we know of it today has truly come a long way since its inception in the 1800s. Modern dentistry has now expanded in to various fields that include:

Cosmetic Dentistry - Losing a tooth or having misaligned teeth used to be something that you’d just have to learn to live with, but thanks to advances in technology, there are a number of cosmetic dentistry procedures that cater to various needs. Some of these procedures include teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, dental implants, standard braces and clear aligners. 

Pain Free Dentistry and Sedation - Gone are the days where you would have to suffer through a procedure wide awake. Patients in the 21st century are now used to being put under general anesthesia for complex procedures such as wisdom tooth extraction, and are more than often left pain-free for other procedures such as root canals, dental crowns, dental implants and bridges. 

Preservation of Teeth - In the past, as mentioned above, dentistry involved the removal of rotting teeth, with no other options available to preserve an impacted tooth. In 2021, options such as root canal treatments are now considered the norm and have given dental patients all around the world a chance to remove infected or inflamed pulp as an alternative to tooth extraction. Thanks to this, there is a much lower rate of people losing their teeth in modern times. Even so, options such as dental bridges, implants and permanent dentures are now available for patients who may be missing teeth, thus helping greatly in improving confidence and self esteem levels of people all around the world. 

As you can see, the art of dentistry has come an immensely long way since its inception in 5000 BCE. With new and emerging technologies that are constantly evolving, a trip to the dentist can now be as pain-free and comfortable as possible. In fact, most procedures in 2021 are so unaching that you may even fall asleep at the chair!

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