By Vivian B. Isaboke
Africa has always been the birth place of many things. It is the birthplace of man, philosophy, religion, mathematics and so much more. So it’s no surprise that the roots of dentistry can be traced back to Egypt to a man named Hesi-Re who lived around 3000 B.C. Inside his burial chamber, inscriptions say, “the greatest of those who deal with teeth [chief toother], and of the physicians.” Not only that, but the 1st tooth brush can be traced back to this time period also. The miswack (also known as “chewing stick”) is considered by many, to be the first toothbrush.
As time passed and knowledge grew, dentistry began to emerge on a greater level not only in Egypt but also in Rome, China, India, Pakistan and Japan. In the middle Ages the only educated people were the clergy. Monks acted as doctors, surgeons and dentists. However in the early 12th century the Church forbade clergy to do operations of any kind. In their place a new type of craftsman called a barber-surgeon emerged. As well as cutting hair and doing surgery they also pulled teeth!
During the “17th century French physician Pierre Fauchard started dentistry science as it is known today, and he has been named "the father of modern dentistry". Among many of his developments were the extensive use of dental prosthesis, the introduction of dental fillings as a treatment for dental caries and the statement that sugar derivative acids such as tartaric acid are responsible for dental decay.” [Glenner]
Moving unto the 18th century dentistry took a more scientific approach. In 1728 a French dentist called Pierre Fauchard published a book called The Surgeon Dentist. In 1771 an Englishman called John Hunter published a book called The Natural History of the Human Teeth.
“Dentistry took huge leaps in the late 18th century and the 19th century. Porcelain false teeth were invented in 1770. In 1790 Josiah Flagg invented the dentist’s chair. In 1832 James Snell invented a reclining chair. In 1877 Basil Manly Wilkerson invented a hydraulic chair. Furthermore for centuries rich patients had gold fillings but amalgam was first used in Europe around 1820.Then in 1846 Henry Morton demonstrated the use of ether as an anesthetic in dentistry. In 1864 George Fellows invented a clockwork dental drill. In 1875 Dr Green invented an electric dental drill. The air turbine dental drill (using compressed air) was introduced in 1957.” [Lambert]
By the 19th century dentistry had grown a great deal in both Europe and The United States. The first dental college, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, opened in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in 1840. In 1901, the 1st dental degree in Europe was award by Birmingham University in Britain.
Sources: [Gleener][Lambert]' -http://www.fauchard.org/history/index_articles.html