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A History of "Gentle" Dentistry You Need to Know


What was it like to perform dental care in ancient times? While going to the dentist may be one of those regular things you have done your entire life, the history of “gentle” dentistry is an ancient practice which helped shape the course of human medicine. Even though our modern dentistry has evolved, imagine have dental anxiety during the times of ancient dentistry. You might of “forgotten” to go to your appointment back then to avoid the ancient dental techniques.  

A Brief History of “Gentle” Dentistry

Dental care has evolved with time, even though some still believe it to be as torturous as it was in the past. But ancient Egyptians, who were one of the first civilizations to have dental care, would call our current dental care a breeze. It was rare for ancient civilizations to visit their dentist semi-annually for a routine checkup to maintain their teeth. They went out of necessity because their teeth were causing so much pain.

First kind of toothbrush in history

If the toothbrush we know today wasn’t invented until 1938, what did they use to scrub away their plaque every morning and every night? Historians researched the first toothbrush as being a basic stick or twig that was pressed at one end to create a wide enough of a cleaning surface for primitive humans to run across their teeth, called a "chew stick."

The first recorded evolution of the toothbrush, however, dated back as far as the 17th century, when the Chinese invented the first toothbrush with bristles. A first version of the modern toothbrush design was created by William Addis around 1780. In 1938, the invention of nylon helped launch the development of the toothbrush we know today. When people thought the nylon bristles were harsh on their teeth, manufacturers developed a softer bristle brush in the 1950s.

Brushing with the first toothpaste

Back when you didn’t get the choice between Crest and Colgate for toothpaste, ancient toothbrushes used a different type of toothpaste. Early Egyptians were recorded as far back as 4 AD, using a combination of dried iris flowers, mint, pepper, and rock salt to create a cleaning powder. Unfortunately, the mixture caused bleeding gums in many who used it.

Other recipes continued to appear throughout history, from the Middle Ages and beyond. However, many of these ingredients contained corrosive elements that dissolved enamel from the teeth. Our modern toothpaste came about in the 1800s. These early formulas used ingredients such as chalk and soap. Fluoride was added to toothpaste during the 1890s, giving us the toothpaste we have come to know so well.

First kind of dentist appointment

The very first types of dental visits in ancient times wasn’t to check on the health of your teeth—they were to eliminate the gut-wrenching pain people were experiencing in their mouth. History of “gentle” dentistry considers Hesy-Re, an Egyptian scribe, as the first "dentist" in the Egyptian civilization.

A "Guild of Barbers" established in France in 1210 did complex surgeries and tooth extractions. Around the 1770s, Paul Revere, a significant figure in American history, placed advertisements in Boston newspapers offering his dental services.

The 1800s saw more "modern" changes such as the first dental college opening in 1840, the first mass-produced toothpaste distributed by Colgate in 1873, and X-rays were invented in 1896. The first school of orthodontics was established in 1901. Novocaine wasn't introduced until 1905 for dental procedures. Each of these changes has evolved the field of dentistry into a far more comfortable practice.

Modern Preventative Dental Care

Whether in ancient times or modern times, don’t only come to your dentist when you are feeling a toothache coming. Preventative dentistry helps keep your teeth healthy and can prevent a severe toothache. Schedule an appointment with us today!