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The History Of Dentistry

Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions, dating all the way back to 7000 B.C. with the Indus Valley Civilization. Moving forward into 5000 BC, the Sumerians hypothesized that tooth worms were the cause of all dental pain and issues. This idea lasted until it was proven false in the middle ages. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about treating decayed teeth as well as having teeth extracted to keep mouth pain away. The concept of teeth extractions from the mouth using forceps was often used to treat many diseases for infected teeth for pain alleviation purposes, not preventive care. The first professional “dentists” were known as barber-surgeons who were prominent in Europe beginning in the thirteenth century.  They were responsible for bleeding, cupping, leeching, giving enemas and extracting teeth.

By the 1700s, dentistry had become a more defined profession. In 1723, Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon was credited as the Father of Modern Dentistry. When he was 15 years old, he began his surgical training in the French navy and first introduced the idea of dental fillings and the use of dental prosthesis, and identified that acids from sugar led to tooth decay. After leaving the French Navy, Fauchard began working as a professional dentist in France.  His practice flourished and he earned a promising reputation as a dental surgeon, attracting patients from all over the country.    His scientific, comprehensive approach was commended by fellow medical professionals and laid the groundwork for the future of dentistry.

The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery was founded in 1840 and became the world’s first school of dentistry.  In the United States, Alabama enacted the nation’s first dental practice act in 1841, and nearly 20 years later, the American Dental Association (ADA) was formed. The American Dental Association (ADA) is the nation's largest dental association and is the leading source of oral health related information for dentists and their patients. Shortly thereafter, the first university-affiliated dental institution, Harvard University Dental School, was founded in 1867. By 1873, Colgate had mass produced the first toothpaste in a jar, and mass-produced toothbrushes followed a few years later. Surprisingly enough, Americans did not adopt good brushing habits until after World War II, when soldiers stationed abroad brought the concept of good oral health back to the United States.