Dentistry is a fascinating area of medicine. Thanks to scientific advancements, the field is also completely modern and safe. This is very different from what it was like in the 17th century. At the same time, there are some things that haven’t changed at all, such as the fact that most people do not like to go to the dentist! That said, few people are aware that, back in the 17th century, dentistry in itself simply didn’t exist yet! This is why Dr. Kami Hoss felt it was interesting to study where dentistry has come from and where it is now.

Dr. Kami Ross on Dentistry in the 17th and 18th Century

  • There was almost no knowledge of medicine.
  • Dentists were barber surgeons, who would extract any painful teeth.
  • People would tie strings around painful teeth.
  • Patients were distracted from pain by having drums played near them during extraction, playing louder as the tooth was pulled.
  • Barber surgeons would have rotten teeth hanging out of their shops to demonstrate they could pull teeth.

Dr. Kami Ross on Dentistry in the 19th Century

  • Knowledge on health and dental functioning increased.
  • There was more interest in anatomy and bodily functions, creating a basis for what we now know as medical science. Physicians were also more interested in dental needs.
  • Electricity helped to advance medical sciences, setting the standard much higher as well.
  • Dentistry became a licensed profession towards the end of the 19th century.

Dr. Kami Ross on Dentistry in the 20th Century

  • Dental specializations were developed, including orthodontics in 1901, periodontics, oral surgery, and prosthodontics in 1918, pedodontics in 1927, and oral pathology in 1946.
  • Fluoride treatments were developed, truly changing the way people could look after their own teeth and dental health.
  • Oral-systematic health was a new concept but a rapidly developing one. This meant that medical professionals started to recognize the importance of dental hygiene. This also resulted in more people studying towards becoming dentists.
  • Penicillin was discovered and became more widespread, which helped people heal from a variety of complex infections.
  • Becoming a specialized dentist was suddenly a very interesting, lucrative, and safe career.

As you can see, the timeline of dentistry is fascinating. Today, the field continues to advance itself, increasing in knowledge, tools, and equipment. Today, scientists the world over are looking at ways to make dentistry more interesting, easier to access, and less frightening as a form of treatment. Those scientists have changed the lives of people everywhere over the past 300 years or so, and they will continue to do so.

Dr. Kami Ross understands that many people still have an inherent fear of the dentist. However, this stems from the way dentistry was delivered in the 17th century, where procedures were not just painful but also potentially lethal. Today, the field is safe and actually enhances health, rather than placing people at risk of even greater health problems. As such, fear of the dentist should not stop people from getting care anymore.