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Dentistry Through The Ages

added on: October 7, 2015 | By: Dr. Bilal Saib

Just as with all medicine, dentistry is an ever-evolving field. At my dental office in Chapel Hill, we’re constantly updating technology and improving our knowledge to better serve patients just like you.

But imagine if you lived 200 hundred years ago. What was dentistry like then? How about during the middle ages? Would the dentists of those times have been able to replace your lost tooth? Would they have been able to fill a cavity? What would they have recommended you do for a toothache?

Let’s take a look.

Dentistry in the middle ages

For the common folk, dentistry consisted mostly of self-care and occasional visits to practitioners or barber surgeons who treated a toothache by pulling the offending tooth and  suggested things like kissing a donkey to cure the toothache. It also wasn’t unheard of to recommend concocting a mixture of newts, lizards, and beetles into a powder and applying it to the painful tooth throughout the day.  

The truth is, in spite of inconsistent professional care, most medieval commoners had clean, white teeth. Why? Their diets were similar to what a modern dentist would recommend for a healthy mouth: One very low in sugar and refined flours and high in calcium.  They also used all kinds of fairly effective tooth cleaners and mouth rinses, including a paste made from crushed peppermint and rock salt.

Dentistry in the 19th Century

Dentistry didn’t begin to resemble what we think of as dentistry today until the early 18th century, and by the 19th century, dentistry began to seem quite modern. European surgeons had begun experimenting with implanting teeth; dentures were being created out of both human teeth, the teeth of animals, and porcelain; and nitrous oxide, the same laughing gas we sometimes use today, was introduced by Humphry Davy around 1800. In 1840, the Baltimore College of Dentistry, the first dental college, was founded by Chapin Harris and Horace Hayden. It was the first step into dentistry as we know it today.

Our Dentistry

At my Chapel Hill dental office, we’ve continued to adapt and improve our services as the advancements in dental care improve. We always ensure the utmost in comfort, technology, and service. To schedule an appointment and experience the difference, give us a call today!

Welcoming patients from Chapel Hill, Durham, and Pittsboro

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