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The History of Dentistry: The Highlights

By J. Brent Gorrell on December 06, 2016

An illustration of a tooth underneath a transparent domeAt Gorrell Dental, we are proud to offer the most advanced and effective treatments in restorative dentistry, general dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry. We stay abreast of the latest advances in dentistry by keeping one eye open toward the future, continually exploring ways that we can better serve our patients through new techniques and improved technologies. However, Dr. J. Brent Gorrell and his team are equally interested in dentistry’s rich and rewarding past.

Did you, for example, know the name of the first known dentist in recorded history? While you may be able to make an appointment with Dr. J. Brent Gorrell as soon as you’ve read this history of dentistry provided by our Mountain View, CA dentist, if it were 2650 BC, you might be making an appointment with Egyptian physician Hesy-Re. Unlike Dr. Gorrell, Hesy-Re would check your teeth for the presence of “tooth worms,” which have been believed to be the cause of tooth decay since at least 5000 BC, according to an ancient Sumerian text. (If you’re fortunate, he won’t actually find a tooth worm - almost certainly a tooth nerve - and try to remove it!)

Fortunately, it is not 2650 BC, and dentistry has come a long way in the centuries that have passed. Nevertheless, without the dental pioneers of yesteryear, we wouldn’t have the pain-free, highly effective procedures we have today. Speaking of which, we invite you to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. J. Brent Gorrell at Gorrell Dental today!

Highlights of the History of Dentistry

The history of dentistry is too dense and complex to summarize adequately in the space of a blog post, so here are just a few of its most notable highlights:

  • 7000 BC: The people of the Indus Valley Civilization create bow drills specifically to treat tooth decay. These bow drills represent the earliest evidence of dental tools.
  • 3500 BC: The earliest variants of toothbrushes enter into use. Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians chew on the ends of twigs to create primitive “bristles” which they use to clean their teeth.
  • 500 BC: Tooth powders, the early version of toothpastes, are in wide use throughout Greece, China, Rome, and India. Although highly abrasive, these tooth powders are effective in removing superficial plaque and debris - along with some enamel.
  • 600: A Mayan woman was fitted with what is now the earliest surviving evidence of dental implants. These implants comprise shell fragments embedded into the jawbone to replace missing teeth.
  • 1210: The Guild of Barbers is formed in France, where lay barbers are the first professionals to provide tooth extractions as a means of treating tooth pain.
  • 1746: Cosmetic dentistry is born when Claude Mouton proposes the first tooth-colored dental crown.
  • 1859: The American Dental Association is formed.
  • 1873: Colgate introduces the first mass-produced toothpaste onto the market. At first, it is available in jars. Within 25 years, collapsible tubes will become the norm.
  • 1960: The first laser is approved for use in dentistry by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Schedule Your Initial Consultation at Gorrell Dental

To schedule your initial consultation with Dr. J. Brent Gorrell, please contact Gorrell Dental today.

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I moved out of the area 20 years ago and happily drive 40 miles to still see Dr. Gorrell. Best dentist ever. Kevin B.

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Mountain View Office

809 Cuesta Dr
Ste 205
Mountain View, CA 94040

Open Today 9:00am - 1:00pm

More Info Directions (650) 967-1441