Fifteen Fun Dental Facts From Dr. Fondriest

While you try to be diligent regarding your dental care, let’s face it, most people try to avoid thinking about dentistry. However, the subject of dentistry doesn’t have to be all serious, dull, and boring. It doesn’t have to bring forth fear and anxiety. The history of dentistry is actually very interesting. For all of you history buffs out there, dentistry can be a very entertaining topic. Today, your Lake Forest Dentist, Dr. Fondriest, shares some dental history and interesting dental facts.

History of Dentistry

Fact #1: As far back as 3500 B.C., Babylonians cleaned their teeth with “chewing sticks” from certain trees. They would either fray or chew one end of the stick to use as bristles, using the other end as a handle.

Fact #2: Ancient Egyptians used twigs with antibacterial properties from neem and cinnamon trees. The cinnamon tasted good and freshened their breath.

Fact #3: The Chinese used chewing sticks right up until the 13th century when they developed the first toothbrush using boar bristles and a bamboo handle.

Fact #4: At that time in history, and until the boar bristle toothbrush was introduced to the west, Europeans were scrubbing their teeth with a cloth or sponge dipped in salt solutions or sulfur oils.

Fact #5: Finally, in 1937, Americans invented nylon toothbrush bristles which replaced most others because they are sanitary and less costly. Interestingly enough, however, chewing sticks are still used in areas of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and South America.

Fact #6: Based on evidence from 5000 B. C. E., the very earliest toothpastes developed by the Egyptians were called “tooth powders” and were made using things such as crushed bones, burnt eggshells, and ashes. One tooth powder consisted of a mixture of myrrh, pumice, ox hooves, and eggshell fragments, while others consisted of pepper, powdered salt, iris flowers, and mint leaves.

Fact #7: The Romans brushed their teeth with a urine-based toothpaste. The ammonia in the urine helped keep their teeth white.  Eventually the Romans began using a mixture of pulverized brick, chalk, and salt.

Fact #8: History indicates Napoleon used an opium-based toothpaste.

Fact #9: Amazingly, 2,500 years ago, the Mayans had an unprecedented understanding of dentistry. Men would have their teeth decorated by cutting parts out and shaping the tooth to resemble flowers or totems poles. They would also have gems inserted into the center of their teeth. These decorative feats were performed using a primitive drill without cracking or breaking the dentition.

Fact #10: Because the dental profession had yet to exist in the early 1800s, anyone with suitable tools–usually barbers and blacksmiths–performed dental related treatments. Once the dental profession was developed people continued to rely on their blacksmiths and barbers for dental treatment, which made real dentists angry and licensing became a requirement.

Fact #11: Toothache pain drove our early ancestors to develop bizarre, unsuccessful treatments for relief. For instance, at one time it was believed that tiny worms inside your tooth was what caused toothaches. Various methods were used to remove the worms. One strange method involved using seeds and wax. Another toothache treatment involved swapping spit with a frog while reciting magic. A medical practitioner developed a remedy that included puncturing the gingival tissue surrounding the aching tooth repeatedly with a nail, until it was bloody, then sticking the nail into a wooden beam while promising the pain would subside.

Fact #12: In the late 19th century, the first toothpaste in a jar was mass-produced by Colgate. It was called Crème Dentrifice.

Fact #13: Colgate Dental Cream in collapsible tubes became available for purchase around 1896.

Fact #14: A toothpaste consisting of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide was developed around 1900.

Fact #15: Fluoride, which helps prevent cavities while strengthening teeth, was added to toothpastes by the year 1914.

Now less about the History of Dentistry and more about new technologies:

Aside from providing expert general and cosmetic dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds highly-respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs. To schedule your consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.

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