History of dentistry

The history of dentistry is as old as the history of man. There is evidence of tooth decay in skulls of Cro-Magnon people who inhabited the earth 25,000 years ago.The earliest recorded reference to oral disease is from an ancient (5000 BC) Sumerian text which describes "tooth worms" as the cause of tooth decay. The Ebers Papyrus written between the 1700 and 1500 BC contains references to prescriptions for substances such as olive oils, dates, onions, beans and green lead to be mixed and applied "against the throbbing of the bennut blisters in the teeth". Aesculapius, a Greek physician, who lived between 1300-1200 BC is credited with the concept of extracting diseased teeth. Hippocrates and Aristotle (500-300BC) wrote of ointments and cautery with a red hot wire to treat diseases of teeth and oral tissues. Prehistoric Era (around A. D. 1000)

It has been traced that endosseous implantation of animal teeth and artificial teeth carved of ivory was performed on court women of the ancient Egyptian dynasties. History goes baczk to 6Q0 A.D.; when implant denitistry was practiced by Mayas in the region af modern Honduras.

In 1931, Dr. and Mrs. Wilson Popenae while excavating at the Playa de los Muertos in the Ulva RYer ' Valley of Honduras discovered a skull of Mayan oiigin with three tooth shaped pieces of shell implanted in the Sockets -of missing lowerincisors.
In 1862 Gaillardot on excavation of a grave site near the ancient city of Sidon discovered a prosthodontic appliance dating to 400 B.C., consisting of four natural lower teeth holding between them two carved ivory teeth as replacements for two missing incisors, all held together by gold wire.

Albucasis also known as Abdul kasim an Arab Surgeon (936-1013) fabricated implants made from ox bone. From the middle ages to the early 1700s much dental therapy was provided by the so-called "barber surgeons". During the l8th century, France led the Dental field and Pierre Fauchard was given the retrospective title of "The Father of Dentistry" for his comprehensive work `Le Chiururgien Dentiste', which covered almost everything connected with the subject of dentistry in the l8th century.

Greene Vardiman Black (1831-1915) was the leading reformer of American dentistry who devised the foot driven drill, standardised cavity preparation and amalgam manufacture in 1895.People had a great fear in mind about dentist's as treating methods were very crude and painful.
It is obvious that as the need for dentistry escalated with social development, the role of a dentist evolved from a trade or craft governed by a guild to a sophisticated profession.

Most of our knowledge of early Indian dental treatment comes from the Sushruta Samhita (Sushruta collection). According to Sushrutha, tumours and other growths of the palate and over the wisdom teeth were excised rather than cauterized. He considered cauterization was the best method for the treatment of a tumour on the gums or tongue. A surgeon in ancient India was using a specially designed iron tool, whose flattened ovoid end was heated red hot: Similarly fluids like honey oil or wax brought to the boiling point were also used to Cauterize the oral tumors.
The fractures of the jaws were treated by complicated bandaging. Mandibular dislocations were reduced by heating the region around the joint and the jaw was brought into its correct position. A light bandage was applied under the chin and a drug was administered to drive out the evil wind.
Caries was more prevalent in the upper class of people, probably due to their diet, which was rich in carbohydrates.

According to Vagbhata, filling of the cavity in a carious tooth with wax and then burning it out with a heated probe, was the ideal treatment. If this failed to relieve the pain, he recommended the extraction of such teeth by using a specially designed forceps, the beaks of which were shaped like an animals head.
The surgical instruments as described by Sushrutha, were of two kinds i.e. Yantra or `blunt' and sahstra or `sharp'. As mentioned in his (Sushrutha's) work, there were about one hundred and one (101) Yantras. Furthermore, there was a special forceps called as danta sanka for the extraction of teeth. However, Sushrutha preferred to extract the mobile teeth with a specially designed arrow shaped forceps with a flattened tip.
According to Vagbhata, the teeth appear in the eighth month or later if the child is healthy. If children suffered from pain caused by teething at an early age, their devlopment cannot be normal.
Sushrutha and Vagbhata advocated the need for removing calculus from the teeth using a special instrument.
Even in ancient times, Indians never liked to use the brushes made of animal hairs. They considered such brushes rather unhygienic and barbaric. They used to use wooden twigs of Neem,Babool, miswak and other trees with medicinal properties called "datun" twig always varied according to the time of the year and the user's temperament. Similarly, the length of the twig ideally about 6 inches but also varied according to the user's choice. One end of the twig, crushed, liberating an extract being bitter but having astringent quality. The crushed end resembling like a brush was being used for cleaning the teeth. Aromatic herbs and spices were used for rinsing the mouth.

Infact Indian Medicine was so well known that even Greek doctors were familiar with Indian mouth washes for bad breath. In "On Diseases of Women", Hippocrates describes an "Indian preparation" made by pounding together Anise, Dill and Myrrh in white wine.
Both medical and religious beliefs have done much to focus the attention of the Indians on their teeth. Maintenance of oral hygiene was part of daily ritual for the Indians who considered the mouth to be the gateway to the body and therefore insisted that it should be kept clean.