Some History about Dentistry


A Little History about Dentistry

The following articles are excerpts from World of Invention or World of Scientific Discovery.

Dental Drill

When a tooth develops a cavity, the decayed tissue must be removed. The earliest devices for doing this were picks and enamel scissors. Then two-edged cutting instruments were designed, they were twirled in both directions between the fingers. The father of modern dentistry, the Frenchman Pierre Fauchard (1678-1761), described an improved drill in 1728. Its rotary movement was powered by catgut twisted around a cylinder, or by jewelers’ bowstrings. A hand-cranked dental drill bit was patented by John Lewis in 1838. George Washington’s dentist, John Greenwood (1760-1819), invented the first known “dental foot engine” in 1790. He adapted his mother’s foot-treadle spinning wheel to rotate a drill. Greenwood’s dentist son continued to use the drill, but the idea went no further. The Scottish inventor James Nasmyth used a coiled wire spring to drive a drill in 1829. Charles Merryof St. Louis, Missouri, adapted Nasmyth’s drill, adding a flexible cable, in 1858. The first “motor-driven” drill appeared in 1864, the design of Englishman George F. Harrington; and-held, it was powered by the spring of a clock movement. In 1868 the American George F. Green introduced a pneumatic drill powered by a pedal bellows. Fellow American James B. Morrison patented a pedal bur drill in 1871. A further improvement of the Nasmyth-Merry design, it featured a flexible arm with a “hand” piece to hold the drill, plus a foot treadle and pulleys. In 1874 Green added electricity to the dental drill; powered by electromagnetic motors, it worked well but was heavy and expensive. Plug-in electric drills became available in 1908; by then most dental offices were electrified. Once efficient, mechanically-driven drills became widely available, teeth could be properly and accurately prepared for well-fitting crowns and fillings. American teeth blossomed with gold. Modern dental drills are turbine-powered; they rotate at speeds of 300,000 to 4000,000 revolutions per minute. The Morrison drill, by comparison, operated at 600 to 800 r.p.m.

Source: Travers, B., ed., World of Invention, Gale Research Inc., (1994) p. 194. Gale Research Inc

Where did toothbrushes and toothpaste come from?

The first toothbrushes were small sticks or twigs mashed at one end to create a broader cleaning surface. The Chinese lay claim to the first bristle toothbrush. Europe adopted the bristle brush in the 17th century, and many dentists practicing in colonial America advised their patients to use the brush. The first electric toothbrush was marketed in 1880, though the Swiss developed the first effective electric toothbrush just after World War II. It was introduced in the United States around 1960. A year later, the first cordless model was developed and proved to be popular with consumers and dentists. Toothpaste also saw its earliest form in ancient civilizations. Early toothpaste ingredients included powdered fruit, burnt or ground shells, talc, honey and dried flowers. Less agreeable ingredients included mice, rabbit heads, lizard livers and urine. Despite the decidedly non-minty flavor of early toothpaste, various recipes continued to appear throughout ancient history and well into the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, many of these toothpastes contained corrosive elements that dissolved tooth enamel. Toothpaste as we know it emerged in the 1800s, with ingredients that included soap and chalk. In 1892, the first collapsible tube was marketed and reigned supreme until 1984 when the pump-dispenser was introduced.. In 1956, Proctor & Gamble introduced Crest brand toothpaste with fluoride.

Dental Filling, Crown and Bridge Fillings.

Cavities in teeth have been filled since earliest times with a variety of materials: stone chips, turpentine resin, gum, metals. Arculanus (Giovanni d’ Arcoli) recommended gold-leaf fillings in 1848. The renowned physician Ambroise Pare (1510-1590) used lead or cork to fill teeth. In the 1700s, Pierre Fauchard (1678-1761), the father of modern dentistry, favored tin foil or lead cylinders. Philip Pfaff (1715-1767), dentist to Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-1786), used gold foil to cap the pulp. Gold leaf as a filling became popular in the United States in the early nineteenth centry; Marcus Bull of Hartford, Connecticut, began producing beaten gold for dental used in 1812. In 1853 sponge gold was introduced in the United States and England to replace gold leaf. This was followed by the cohesive, or adhesive, gold introduced by American dentist Robert A. Arthur in 1855. Gutta percha was used for fillings beginning in 1847. The invention of the power-driven dental drill led to increased demand for fillings and so for an inexpensive filling material. Aguste Taveau of Paris, France, developed what was probably the first dental amalgam–in 1816. He used filings from silver coins mixed with mercury. When the French Crawcour brothers emigrated to the United States in 1833, they introduced Taveau’s amalgam. The poor quality of the amalgam led to its condemnation by many dentists , kicking off the so-called “amalgam war,” a 10 -year period from 1840 to 1850 of bitter controversy about the merits and deficiencies of mercury amalgam. Numerous experiments were made from the 1860s through the 1890s to develop improved amalgam filings materials. The Chicago, Illnois, dentist G. V. Black (1836-1915) ( first dean of Northwestern Dental School where Dr Gray and Dr Syn Graduated ) finally standardized both cavity preparation and amalgam manufacture in 1895. After truly effective dental cement was developed, baked porcelain inlays came into use for filling large cavities. These were first described by B. Wood in 1862. In 1897 an Iowa dentist, B. F. Philbrook, described his method of casting metallic fillings from a wax impression that matched the shape of the cavity perfectly. Dr. William H. Taggart of Chicago described a similar method for casting fold inlays in 1907. This techniques made possible the modern era of accurate filling and inlay fitting.

Crowns and Bridges

Crowns (used to replace and cover missing portions of teeth) and bridges (mountains for artificial teeth attached at either end to natural teeth) were made of gold and used by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago. Crowns and bridges fell out of use during the Middle Ages and were only gradually rediscovered. The gold shell crown was described by Pierre Mouton of Paris, France, in 1746, and not patented until 1873, by Beers. The Logan crown, patented in 1885, used porcelain fused to a platinum post, replacing the unsatisfactory wooden posts previously used. In 1907 the attached-post crown was introduced, which was more easily adjustable.

Bridge work developed as crowns did; dentists would add extra facing to a crown to hold a replacement for an adjacent missing tooth. The major advance came with the detachable facings patented by Dr. Walter Mason of New Jersey in 1890 and the improved interchangeable facings introduced by Mason’s associated Dr. Thomas Steele in 1904. The common problem of broken facings was now easy to fix, and permanent bridge installation became possible and success full.

Source: Travers, B., ed., World of Invention, Gale Research Inc., (1994) pp. 194-195. Gale Research Inc

False Teeth

Replacements for decayed or lost teeth have been produced for millennia. The Etruscans made skillfully designed false teeth out of ivory and bone, secured by gold bridgework, as early as 700 B.C. Unfortunately, this level of sophistication for false teeth was not regained until the 1800s.

During medieval times, the practice of dentistry was largely confined to tooth extraction; replacement was seldom considered. Gaps between teeth were expected, even among the rich and powerful. Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) filled the holes in her mouth with cloth to improve her appearance in public.

When false teeth were installed, they were hand-carved and tied in place with silk threads. If not enough natural teeth remained, anchoring false ones was difficult. People who wore full sets of dentures had to remove them when they wanted to eat. Upper and lower plates fit poorly and were held together with steel springs; disconcertingly, the set of teeth could spring suddenly out of the wearer’s mouth. Even George Washington (1732-1799) suffered terribly from tooth loss and ill-fitting dentures. The major obstacles to progress were finding suitable materials for false teeth, making accurate measurements of patient’s mouth, and getting the teeth to stay in place. These problems began to be solved during the 1700s.

Since antiquity, the most common material for false teeth was animal bone or ivory, especially from elephants or hippopotami. Human teeth were also used, pulled from the dead or sold by poor people from their own mouths. These kinds of false teeth soon rotted, turning brown and rancid. Rich people preferred teeth of silver, gold, mother of pearl, or agate.

In 1774 the French pharmacist Duchateau enlisted the help of the prominent dentist Dubois de Chemant to design hard-baked, rot-proof porcelain dentures. De Chemant patented his improved version of these “Mineral Paste Teeth” in 789 and took them with him when he emigrated to England shortly afterward. The single porcelain tooth held in place by an imbedded platinum pin was invented in 1808 by the Italian dentist Giuseppangelo Fonzi. Inspired by his dislike of handling dead people’s teeth, Claudius Ash of London, England, invented an improved porcelain tooth around 1837.

Porcelain teeth came to the United States in 1817 via the French dentist A. A. Planteau. The famous artist Charles Peale (1741-1847) began baking mineral teeth in Philadelphia, Pennsylavania, in 1822. Commercial manufacture of porcelain teeth in the United States was begun, also in Philadelphia, around 1825 by Samuel Stockton. In 1844 Stockton’s nephew founded the S.S. White Company, which greatly improved the design of artificial teeth and marketed them on a large scale.

Fit and comfort, too, gradually improved. The German Philip Pfaff (1715-1767) introduced plaster of paris impressions of the patient’s mouth in 1756. Daniel Evans of Philadelphia also devised a method of accurate mouth measurement in 1836. The real breakthrough came with Charles Goodyear’s discovery of vulcanized rubber in 1839. This cheap, easy-to-work material could be molded to fit the mouth and made a good base to hold false teeth. Well-mounted dentures could now be made cheaply. The timing was fortuitous. Horace Wells (1815-1848) had just introduced painless tooth extraction using nitrous oxide. The number of people having teeth removed skyrocketed, creating a great demand for good, affordable dentures, which Goodyear’s invention made possible.

After 1870, another cheap base, celluloid, was tried in place of rubber, but it too had drawbacks. Today dentures are either plastic or ceramic .

Source: Travers, B., ed., World of Invention, Gale Research Inc., (1994) pp. 238-239.

How long have we had anesthesia?

Though dentistry has been around in one form or another since the days of primitive man, painless extraction wasn’t available until the 1830s. In the beginning, teeth were removed with a well-placed chisel and a hard swing of a mallet. Thousands of years later, during peaks of the great Greek and Roman civilizations, the chisel-and-mallet method was abandoned in favor of forceps.

In the 1790s, a British chemist began to experiment with the use of nitrous oxide as a pain-inhibitor and noted that its most famous side effect, laughing. He coined the anesthetic’s popular nickname, laughing gas. During the next 50 years, the gas became very popular. People were so taken with the exhilarating effects of the gas that inhalation parties became the rage. In 1863 the gas was combined with oxygen, becoming a staple of surgical procedures.

Soon after the adoption of nitrous oxide, local anesthetics were developed. Just prior to the 1900s, cocaine was used, but once its addictive qualities were identified, the search began for a suitable alternative. Many of the alternatives were forms of synthetic cocaine, but none were successful until 1905 when a German chemist discovered procaine, which he named Novocain. The anesthetic proved extremely popular with dental professionals, as well as a public relived at the sound of “painless dentistry.” What’s dental about that?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Carabelli’s tubercle is a degeneration cusp of upper first molar in the mesial-lingual portion also known as the Cusp of Carabelli, In layman’s terms, it is the 5th cusp on a molar normally located on the back side of upper first molars . Carabelli’s trait molars are dental features commonly used to differentiate Chinese from Caucasoid populations in dental forensics.

The trait was named after a famous Italian Dentist

At one time in history, was the sole distribution web site for “Winamp” the popular mp3 player in the early days of its developement. “The Dentist” in the early credits of Winamp is Dr Syn.

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