Timeline of dentistry

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This is a timeline of dentistry, attempting to illustrate the evolution of the medical specialty.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
Ancient times Dating back to 7000 B.C., dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions. The earliest records on dentistry date back to the Indus Valley Civilization. At around 5000 BC, descriptions related to dentistry and tooth decay become available. At the time, a Sumerian text describes tooth worms as causing dental decay, an idea that wouldn't prove false until the 1700s.[1]
Middle age In the Early Middle Ages in Europe monks act as doctors, surgeons and dentists. However in the early 12th century the Church forbids clergy to do operations of any kind. This gives place to the merge of craftsmen called a barber-surgeons. As well as cutting hair and doing surgery, barber-surgeons pull teeth. People clean their teeth by chewing twigs. Others make toothpaste from things like crushed eggshells. However there are no toothbrushes at the time.[2]
17th century In Europe, some barber-surgeons begin to specialize in dentistry. Toothbrushes are introduced into England in the mid-century.[2]
18th century Dentistry becomes more scientific[2] and a more defined profession.[1]
19th century Diets change as sugar becomes increasingly available. Common consumption of refined foods and sugary treats make tooth problems more common. However, dentistry keeps a fair pace with these developing problems. European dentists start experimenting with dental implants, gold fillings are used to treat decayed teeth, and nitrous oxide is introduced as a way to ease the pain during dental extractions and other oral surgeries.[3]
20th century The century is one of great advances in dental technology. In the 1950s, the first fluoride toothpastes are marketed. In the 1960s, lasers are developed. In the 1990s, new advances in esthetic dentistry emerge, including tooth-colored restorative materials, bleaching materials, veeners and implants.[4][5]

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Country/region
7000 BC Medical development Human remains at the Mehgarh Neolithic site in Baluchistan, Pakistan, dating from that time show early evidence of dentistry. Holes in eleven teeth found on the site were intentionally made using ancient flint drill bits. The slight decay on the teeth suggests the patients had their teeth drilled to rid themselves of tooth decay.[6][7] Pakistan
5000 BC Scientific development A Sumerian text describes “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay.[2][7] Iraq
3000 BC Egyptian high official Hesy-Ra is one of the earliest dental practitioners remembered by name.[6] Egypt
2900 BC – 2750 BC Medical development Egyptian skulls dating from that period contain evidence of small holes in the jaw in the vicinity of a tooth’s roots. Such holes are believed to have been drilled to drain abscesses.[8] Egypt
2500 BC Medical development Oral surgery is thought to be practiced in Egypt this early.[8][9] Egypt
2250 BC Anesthesiology A Babylonian clay tablet reveals the remedy for pain of dental cavities. A cement made by mixing henbane seed with gum mastic is used.[10]
1700 BC – 1500 BC Medical development The Ebers Papyrus in Egypt refers to diseases of the teeth and various toothache remedies.[11][12] Egypt
1500 BC Medical development Accounts of dental treatment appear in Egyptian scrolls dating from that time.[8][13] Egypt
1000 BC Anesthesiology Wine is used in India to produce insensibility.[10] India
900 BC – 300 BC Mayans work on teeth strictly for ritual, religious or purely self adornment purposes, instead of for dental maintenance or hygiene. Jade and turquoise stones are implanted in the teeth. Filing teeth into different shapes indicate tribal and religious affiliations. Some speculate that the Mayans were the first to perform tooth transplantation.[14] Mexico, Guatemala
600 BC Medical development An early attempt at tooth replacement dates to Phoenicia, where missing teeth are replaced with animal teeth and are bound into place with cord.[8] Lebanon
400 BC Medical development Greek physician Hippocrates describes diseases of the mouth.[2][12] Greece
384–322 BC Medical development Aristotle writes about dentistry, describing tooth growth, tooth decay, and gum disease. Like Hippocrates, Aristotle also develops treatment methods, such as using forceps to pull teeth and using wires to attach loose teeth.[6][12] Greece
375 BC – 295 BC Oral hygiene Greek physician Diocles of Carystus becomes the first to recommend regular oral hygiene by rubbing teeth and gums to improve oral health.[15] Greece
300 BC Medical development The Greeks develop some techniques for addressing tooth maladies.[6] Greece
25 AD – 50 AD Medical development Roman encyclopaedist Aulus Cornelius Celsus discusses dental care and treatments in his writings, mentioning that extractions should be avoided except when necessary to keep the tooth intact.[16][12]
166 AD – 201 AD Medical development The Etruscans, an ancient civilization located in current Italy, are thought to have been excellent dentists.[2] The Etruscans practice dental prosthetics using gold crowns and fixed bridgework.[11] Italy
570 – 950 Instrumental The Siwak, a primitive form of toothbrush in Islamic dentistry, is used for cleaning teeth, probably since prehistoric times. A horse shoe shaped metal instrument is used to scrape the tongue as part of oral hygiene care.[14]
700 Medical development A medical text in China mentions a type of amalgam called "sylver paste".[4] China
1000 Medical development Doctors in China treat toothaches with arsenic. They are also noted for their development of using silver amalgam for filling teeth. The Chinese are particularly advanced in their observation of the oral cavity.[13] China
1210 Medical development A Guild of Barbers is established in France. Barbers would eventually evolve into two groups: surgeons who are educated and trained to perform complex surgical operations; and lay barbers, or barber-surgeons, who perform more routine hygienic services including shaving, bleeding and tooth extraction.[11] France
1400 Policy France prohibits lay barbers from practicing all surgical procedures except bleeding, cupping, leeching, and extracting teeth.[11] France
1452 – 1519 Scientific development Leonardo Da Vinci identifies tooth morphology,[15] and depicts the maxillary antrum.[14] Italy
1498 Dental hygiene The toothbrush is invented by the Chinese. The device would take a long time to reach Europe.[2] China
1530 Book Zene Artzney Buchlein wider allerlei kranckeyten und gebrechen der tzeen (The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth) becomes the first book devoted entirely to dentistry. Published in Germany, it is written in German instead of Latin. The book addresses barber-surgeons and surgeons, who treat the mouth, rather than university-trained physicians, who ignore all diseases of the teeth. Subsequent to this publication, other surgeons would publish texts incorporating aspects of dental treatment.[6][8][12] Germany
1540 Anesthesiology German physician Valerius Cordus introduces synthesized sweet vitriol, now more commonly known as ether. Germany
1563 Book Italian anatomist Bartolomeo Eustachi publishes Libellus de dentibus, the first book on dental anatomy.[4] Italy
1564 Anesthesiology French surgeon Ambroise Paré obtains local anesthesia by compression of nerves.[10] France
1575 Medical development Ambroise Paré covers the subject of dentistry in his works, including extraction and treating decay.[6] France
1683 Scientific development Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek identifies oral bacteria using a microscope.[4]
1685 Book Charles Allen publishes The Operator for the Teeth", which is considered the first dental textbook in English.[17][18][19][6]
1728 Book French surgeon Pierre Fauchard publishes Le Chirurgien Dentiste ("The Surgeon Dentist"). His text includes the revelation that sugar causes tooth decay, dispelling the outdated belief that tooth worms and evil spirits are responsible for dental woes.[2][6][1][12] France
1746 Medical development Claude Mouton from France devises a gold crown with a gold post designed to be retained in the root canal, to prevent broken-down molars from further deteriorating.[20][4] France
1756 Medical development Philipp Pfaff describes a method for making impressions of the mouth in wax, from which he constructs a model with plaster. Pfaff's use of plaster would allow dentists to make impressions of the patient's edentulous jaws in the mouth.[21] France
1770 Medical development Porcelain false teeth are invented.[2]
1771 Book British surgeon John Hunter publishes The Natural History of the Human Teeth.[2] United Kingdom
1774 Medical development French Farmacist Alexis Duchâteau and dentist Nicholas Dubois De Chemant design a process for producing hard, decay-proof porcelain dentures.[21] France
1779 Anesthesiology Cornish chemist Humphry Davy announces the anesthetic properties of nitrous oxide and notably calls it laughing gas.[10] United Kingdom
1780 Oral hygiene William Addis manufactures the first modern toothbrush.[4]
1789 Medical development Parisian dentist Nicolas Dubois de Chémant introduces his mineral teeth paste dentures, commonly known as porcelain teeth.[22][23] France
1790 Instrumental American dentist John Greenwood constructs the first known dental foot engine by modifying his mother's foot treadle spinning wheel to rotate a drill.[4] United States
1790 Instrumental American dentist Josiah Flagg constructs the first chair made specifically for dental patients.[2][24][25][26][12] United States
1801 Book Richard C. Skinner writes his Treatise on the Human Teeth, the first dental book published in the United States.[11][27][28][12] United States
1808 Medical development Italian dentist Giuseppangelo Fonzi devises a single porcelain tooth imbedded with a platinum pin.[29][30][21] Italy
c.1820 Medical development Amalgam is first used in Europe.[2][31]
1824 Oral hygiene Soap is added to toothpaste to increase it’s effectiveness. Later soap would be substituted with sodium lauryl sulfate for a smoother paste.[32]
1825 Dental restoration Philadelphia dentist Samuel Stockton White begins commercial manufacture of porcelain teeth. His S.S. White Dental Manufacturing Company would dominate the dental supply market throughout the 19th century.[11][33][34] United States
1832 Instrumental James Snell invents the first reclining dental chair.[2][4][12]
1839 Journal The American Journal of Dental Science is launched. It is the world’s first dental journal.[11][12] United States
1839 Medical development The vulcanized rubber is discovered. This would be used to hold false teeth.[29]
1840 Organization The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery (today University of Maryland School of Dentistry) opens, becoming the first dental school in the United States.[6] United States
1840 Organization The American Society of Dental Surgeons is founded as the world’s first national dental organization. It would dissolve in 1856.[6][35] United States
1844 Anesthesiology American medicine man Gardner Quincy Colton introduces nitrous for wisdom tooth extraction.[10] United States
1846 Anesthesiology Henry Morton demonstrates the use of ether as an anesthetic in dentistry.[2]
1853 Anesthesiology The hollow needle and hypodermic syringe are invented.[10]
1855 Medical development Robert Arthur introduces the cohesive gold foil method for inserting gold into a preparation with minimal pressure.[4]
1859 Organization The American Dental Association is established as a mercury amalgam promoting dental group.[1][35] United States
1860 Medical development The British Royal College of Surgeons introduces the Surgeons Licence in Dental Surgery.[2] United Kingdom
1864 Medical development Sanford C. Barnum develops the rubber dam, a piece of elastic rubber fitted over a tooth by means of weights. The rubber dam is considered the optimal method to isolate a dental operative field and to prevent moisture contamination during the placement of direct restorations and endodontic procedures.[36][4]
1864 Instrumental George Fellows invents a clockwork dental drill.[2]
1867 Organization Harvard University Dental School is established as an early university-affiliated dental institution.[1] United States
1871 Instrumental James B. Morrison patents the first commercially manufactured foot-treadle dental engine. The inexpensive, mechanized tool supplies dental burs with enough speed to cut enamel and dentin smoothly and quickly.[11]
1871 Instrumental American dentist, George F. Green receives a patent for the first electric dental engine, a self-contained motor and handpiece.[37][11] United States
1873 Oral hygiene Colgate starts mass production of the first toothpaste. Mass-produced toothbrushes would followed a few years later.[9][1] United States
1875 Instrumental American dentist George Green invents an electric dental drill.[2][38]
1877 Instrumental Basil Manly Wilkerson invents a hydraulic chair (now called Wilkerson dental chair).[2]
1879 Organization A register of dentists is set up in Britain.[2] United Kingdom
1880 Organization The British Dental Association is founded.[39][40][41] United Kingdom
1880 Oral hygiene The first electric toothbrush is marketed.[29]
1880s Oral hygiene The collapsible metal tube revolutionizes toothpaste manufacturing and marketing. Prior to this, dentifrice was available only in liquid or powder form, usually made by individual dentists, and sold in bottles, porcelain pots, or paper boxes. Tube toothpaste, in contrast, is mass-produced in factories, mass-marketed, and sold nation-wide.[11] United States
1884 Anesthesiology Austrian ophtalmologist Carl Koller from Vienna expounds the value of cocaine for local anesthesia.[10][42] Austria
1890 Medical development American oral microbiologist Willoughby D. Miller formulates his "chemicoparasitic" theory of caries in Microorganisms of the human mouth.[4] United States
1892 Oral hygiene The first collapsible tube is marketed.[29]
1894 Anesthesiology H.J. Carlson discovers that ethyl chloride produces a sound sleep in some dental patients.[10]
1895 Scientific development German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovers the X-ray.[41]
1896 Instrumental American dentist Charles Edmund Kells introduces X-ray technology in dentistry.[8][1] United States
1896 Dental restoration American dentist Greene Vardiman Black establishes the principles of cavity preparation.[4] United States
1899 Medical development American dentist Edward Angle classifies the various forms of malocclusion. Credited with making orthodontics into a dental specialty, Angle also establishes the first school of orthodontics (Angle School of Orthodontia in Saint Louis 1900), the first orthodontic society (American Society of Orthodontia, 1901), and the first dental specialty journal (American Orthodontist, 1907).[11] United States
1900 Organization FDI World Dental Federation Federation is established in Paris as the Fédération Dentaire Internationale.[4] France
1901 Organization Edward Angle starts the first school of orthodontics, and creates a simple classification for crooked teeth, a system still in use today.[1] United States
1903 American dentist Charles H. Land introduces his porcelain jacket crown, the first tooth-colored full-coverage restoration. The PJC is made with feldspathic porcelain clay layers successively fired over platinum foil.[41][43][44] United States
1905 Anesthesiology German chemist Alfred Einhorn formulates the local anesthetic procain, later marketed under the trade name Novocain.[41] Germany
1907 Instrumental American dentist William Taggart introduces a precision casting machine that allows dentists to create gold restorations of great accuracy with a minimum of tooth removal.[8][21] [41][44] United States
1908 Book Greene Vardiman Black publishes his treatise Operative Dentistry, which would remain the essential clinical dental text for fifty years. Black later develops techniques for filling teeth, standardizes operative procedures and instrumentation, develops an improved amalgam, and pioneers the use of visual aids for teaching dentistry.[41][44] United States
1913 Medical development American dentist Edwin J. Greenfield demonstrates the first modern and truly functional dental implant.[8]
1913 Organization (clinic) American dentist Alfred Fones opens the Fones Clinic For Dental Hygienists in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the world’s first oral hygiene school.[11][44] United States
1914 Oral hygiene Fluoride is added to toothpaste to make it more effective in reducing and preventing cavities.[32][45][46][47]
1915 Anesthesiology Dennis Jackson uses carbon dioxide absorber for general anesthesia.[10]
1921 Policy New law introduced in Britain stipulates that only registered dentists could practice dentistry.[2] United Kingdom
1924 Organization The American Dental Assistants Association is founded.[41] United States
1930 Organization The American Board of Orthodontics is founded as the world’s first dental specialty board.[11] United States
1935 Polymerized acrylic resin is introduced as a denture base material to support artificial teeth.[21]
1937 Medical development Alvin Strock develops Vitallium dental screw implant.[4]
1938 Oral hygiene DuPont introduces nylon bristles to the market.[41][7][44]
1945 The water fluoridation era begins when the cities of Newburgh, New York, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, add sodium fluoride to their public water systems, in order to help fight tooth decay among residents.[41][29] United States
1949 Swiss chemist Oskar Hagger develops the first system of bonding acrylic resin to dentin.[44][41][4][48]
1950 Oral hygiene The first fluoride toothpastes are marketed.[41][15]
1953 Instrumental The first commercially successful water-driven turbine drill, developed by American dentist Robert Nelson, is introduced.[8] United States
1955 Medical development American dentist Michael Buonocore describes the acid etch technique, a simple method of increasing the adhesion of acrylic fillings to enamel.[41][4][44]
1956 Oral hygiene Proctor & Gamble introduces Crest brand toothpaste with fluoride.[29] United States
1957 Instrumental John Borden introduces the air turbine dental drill (using compressed air).[2][8][44]
1958 Instrumental A fully reclining dental chair is introduced.[41]
1960 Instrumental Lasers are developed and approved in dentistry for soft tissue work, such as treatment of periodontal disease.[11]
1962 Medical development Rafael Bowen develops resin Bis-GMA, which is commonly used in dental sealants.[4][41]
1980 Medical development Swedish physician Per-Ingvar Brånemark describes techniques for the osseointegration of dental implants.[41]
1984 Oral hygiene The pump dispenser is introduced.[29]
1987 Oral hygiene Researchers at NASA develop the first edible toothpaste, so that astronauts don’t have to spit into zero gravity.[32] United States
1989 Cosmetic dentistry The first commercial home tooth bleaching product is marketed.[41][4]
1990 Cosmetic dentistry An era of esthetic dentistry is innaugurated by the merge of new tooth-colored restorative materials plus increased usage of bleaching, veneers, and implants.[11]
1997 Instrumental The United States Food and Drug administration approves the Er:YAG laser, the first for use on dentin, to treat tooth decay.[11] United States

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References

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