Wedgewood Dental

The History of Dentistry: From Ancient Practices to Modern Innovations

The History of Dentistry: From Ancient Practices to Modern Innovations

The history of dentistry is as old as civilization itself. Evidence of dental care dates back to ancient times when cultures practiced some form of tooth extraction and basic dental hygiene.

As technology and medical knowledge have advanced, so too have the practices and tools used in dentistry.

This blog post will explore the history of dentistry, from its ancient roots to modern innovations, highlighting how far the field has come over the centuries.

Early Dentistry Practices in Ancient Times

Dentistry has existed for thousands of years, with evidence of early dental procedures in ancient civilizations such as Egypt, China, and Greece. The ancient Egyptians were some of the earliest dentistry practitioners and used various materials, such as bones and shells, to create dental implants.

Chinese performed one of the earliest forms of dental treatment as early as 200 BC. They believed worms caused dental decay and used silver or gold wire to fill the cavities.

The ancient Greeks also made significant contributions to dentistry, with Hippocrates and Aristotle discussing tooth extraction and oral hygiene in their writings. In addition, the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization, made dental prosthetics using animal teeth and gold wire.

Despite the early dental hygiene practices, the technology available at the time limited the knowledge and techniques used. As a result, many ancient dental treatments were often painful and could sometimes led to further complications.

Development of Modern Dentistry during the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, the field of dentistry experienced a significant transformation. The focus on dental hygiene and the development of oral healthcare became more advanced and widespread.

One significant change was the establishment of the Guild of Barbers, which included the practice of dental surgery and the extraction of teeth. The first dentistry textbooks also emerged during this period, providing more structured education and knowledge for those practicing the craft.

In the 16th Century, French surgeon Ambroise Pare introduced dental fillings made from lead and gold, a significant breakthrough that would transform the field. During this time, toothbrushes and toothpaste made from salt and chalk were introduced, further contributing to dental hygiene and oral health.

However, dentistry during the Middle Ages was not without its challenges. Anesthesia had not yet been discovered, making dental procedures incredibly painful for patients.

Despite these challenges, the Middle Ages marked a significant turning point in the development of modern dentistry. Advancements in dental surgery, hygiene, and oral health care provided the foundation for modern dental practices, significantly improving patient care and overall health outcomes.

Revolutionary Discoveries and Advancements in the 19th Century

In the 19th Century, dentistry experienced several revolutionary discoveries and advancements that transformed the field. In 1844, Dr. Horace Wells discovered the anesthetic properties of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, revolutionizing pain management during dental procedures.

Another significant advancement was the invention of the dental drill by Dr. George F. Green in 1864, which improved the accuracy and efficiency of tooth preparations.

Dr. Thomas W. Evans, a prominent dentist, introduced porcelain teeth in the 1850s, providing a more durable and aesthetically pleasing option for tooth replacements.

The 19th Century also saw the introduction of dental schools and formal dental education, raising the standard of dental care and professionalism.

Dr. G.V. Black, known as the "father of modern dentistry," made significant contributions to restorative dentistry, including developing silver amalgam fillings in the late 19th Century.

Improved dental materials and techniques, such as rubber dam usage for isolation and the introduction of dental implants, were also noteworthy advancements during this period.

Modern Innovations in Dentistry and Technology

Over the years dentistry has undergone various changes, leading to discoveries, techniques, and equipment. Today, dental practices utilize cutting-edge technology to provide the best possible care for their patients.

One of the most significant technological advancements in dentistry is digital radiography. This technique uses electronic sensors to capture X-ray images of teeth and bones, which are then transferred to a computer. It allows dentists to diagnose dental issues with greater precision and accuracy and reduce the amount of radiation exposure to patients.

Another major innovation in dentistry is laser technology. Lasers are used to perform various dental procedures, including cavity removal, teeth whitening, and gum contouring. Laser technology allows dentists to perform these procedures with greater accuracy, less discomfort, and quicker recovery.

Computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM) have also revolutionized the dental industry. CAD/CAM technology allows dentists to create 3D digital models of teeth, which are then used to create custom-made restorations such as dental crowns, bridges, and dentures. This technology ensures a perfect fit for each patient and significantly speeds up production.

Moreover, advancements in anesthesia and sedation techniques have made dental procedures much more comfortable and less painful for patients. Topical anesthesia, nitrous oxide, and conscious sedation have easily made it possible for even the most anxious patients to undergo dental treatment.

Final Thoughts

At Wedgewood Dental, we recognize the importance of understanding the rich history of dentistry and its evolution over time.

From ancient practices to modern innovations, dentistry has come a long way, and we are proud to be a part of its legacy.

Today, we strive for excellence in providing the best dental care for our patients, using state-of-the-art technology and techniques to achieve optimal oral health.


713 Salem Avenue Suite A, Rolla MO 65401

Office Hours

MON 7:30 am - 3:30 pm

TUE Closed

WED - THU 7:30 am - 3:30 pm

FRI - SUN Closed

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Phone: (573) 368-7325


1116 S. Main Street, Salem MO 65560

Office Hours

MON Closed

TUE 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

WED - THU Closed

FRI 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

SAT - SUN Closed

Get in Touch


Phone: (573) 729-7701