History of Dental Tools and Dental Practices

Have you ever wondered who and when the first dental chair was invented or who and when the first dental drill was invented? Was there dentistry in 7000BC? What kinds of dental myths were there (hint: tooth worms)? Dentistry, and its instruments, has made tremendous leaps and bounds in the past 100 years. Today, you can get clear braces when just a few years back only uncomfortable metal braces were the only option. In this article we will take a look at the advancements in dentistry and the evolution of dental tools.

Dental Inventions

dental-chairSince we teased the dental chair and dental drill in the opening paragraph, let’s start things off with those two dental tools. The very first dental drill was a foot driven instrument devised by John Greenwood in 1790. Like your first cell phone, it was very different than the high-tech drills we have today. It was essentially a modified version of his mom’s foot treadle spinning wheel. The next leap in technology for the dental drill came in 1957, but John Borden, who devised a high-speed contra angle hand piece that produced 30k RPMs.

As for the dental chair, Josiah Flagg an American dentist invented that in 1790. As you will note, both the drill and dental chair were invented in the same year. As with the drill, the chair evolved to a reclining chair in 1832 by inventor James Snell that improved on an already good first design seeing as the original chair came with a headrest and a chair for instruments.

Dental Myth – Tooth Worms

teeth-wormsIn 5000 BC, the Sumerians concluded that tooth worms caused tooth decay. This idea came about as a result of observing the holes that would result of the tooth rotting away, for which they concluded must be tooth worms. The idea of tooth worms has been found in writings of many cultures, including: Egyptian, Greek philosophers, ancient Indian, and Chinese cultures.

While the idea of tooth worms may seem absurd today, there are still many dental myths that people believe in to this day. For example, many people still believe that teeth bleaching weaken your teeth. Bleaching products are generally harmless if used according to the directions and not used too frequently.

Dentistry in the United States

The first dentist in the U.S. was William Dinly in 1630 who came over from the Plymouth Colony. Some believe that “dentists” early blacksmiths were the first true dentists, with their primitive tooth pulling. However, there is no mention of tooth extraction equipment until 1734 when an ad appeared in a New York journal for one.

Today’s Dentistry

We live in an age where dental instruments and dental practices are as good as they have ever been. Dentists today are more educated and utilize the most advanced technology for everything from dental crowns to teeth straightening. Walk into any grocery store and you will be greeted by literally hundreds of options for toothpaste, floss, and toothbrushes. We even have electric toothbrushes and water pics. There really is no excuse not to have that perfect smile you always desired.
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Posted in: Dental History

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