Let’s talk about teeth! We’ve all heard those famous last words from our dentist: “This won’t hurt a bit.” Then the drilling starts, you know the rest!
Even so, be extremely glad you are getting your dental treatments today in 2009 instead of back about five hundred years ago in 1509, when a toothache or tooth extraction required you to visit the local tooth barber-puller in the busy market place.
Back then, your treatment for a toothache meant you would have to lay on your back on the ground with your head between the tooth barber’s knees. Next he would pour in your mouth a mixture of herbs and urine to kill all of your tooth worms. Back then a worm was thought to bore a hole in teeth, causing toothache, cavities and rot. Then, with a combination of demon purging incantations, and also invoking the supernatural help of Ea, god of the abyss, the tooth barber applies a mouth-burning wad of beeswax and acid to all of your teeth. Finally, to stop your toothache, one or more of your teeth would be pulled out of their sockets using knives, thumbs and fingers. He would pull, push and cut until the bad tooth was literally torn out of the gum.
In ancient Egypt as early as 2500 B.C. mummies from that time reveal that rich Egyptian high society suffered much loss of teeth. It is believed the cause; in spite of the morning ritual of “teeth cleaning” was because the rich people there ate large quantities of sugar in their food.
Around 2000 B.C. magic and superstition were replaced by a more rational medical philosophy. But that did not last very long, and soon the belief in the toothache demon and tooth worms was slowly revived. Incense, willow leaves, sina plant, myst liquid and sweet beer were used to fumigate and anoint the mouth of the one who had the toothache.
Some of the ancient Chinese recorded nine kinds of gum disease thought to be the result of “excessive sexual intercourse.” In China toothaches were often treated with arsenic pills placed next to the offending tooth to kill the pain. Of course, the result was that the arsenic killed: nerves, nearby tissue, and sometimes stopped the toothache by killing the patient.
The Hindus, left written texts of the history of dentistry in their culture as it was around 4000 and 3000 B.C. They describe the anatomy of the mouth, pathology, treatment and oral hygiene. Interestingly they also believed toothworms to be the cause of cavities and toothaches. Even so they paid careful attention to the practice of a daily tooth cleaning ritual using the frayed end of a small twig from an aromatic plant. A paste of honey, oil and other ingredients was suggested to be used during the daily cleaning of teeth. They also developed a wide variety of tools for extracting teeth.
Hippocrates (around 460 B.C.) is thought to be the first to insist that medicine should not include magic and priestly incantations. His “humoral theory” explained that four bodily fluids were the main elements of both health and disease. He was an advocate of bloodletting, that later was to be used as a standard of medical practice right up to the twentieth century. He wrote in great detail about teeth, gums and tooth decay. He was one of the first to suggest that tooth decay was caused by the corrosive action of food and other debris found to be trapped between already weak teeth.
In Rome, around 450 B.C. the leading citizens could have the gaps in their teeth filled with gold shell crowns which at that time was a new method of creating artificial replacements of missing teeth. They were rather crude false teeth only good for show, not to be used when eating. The gold shells inserted in the mouth and fastened to nearby healthy natural teeth with gold wire and materials such as bone, boxwood, and ivory were carved to look like teeth and affixed to the gold shells.
It is believed that a tooth drawer named Celsus during the years between 25 B.C. and A.D. 50 filled the first cavity. The fillings were made of lint and lead. The purpose of the filling was to strengthen the empty shell of the tooth so the tooth puller would not shatter the tooth when it was squeezed with his forceps during extraction.
Now let’s skip ahead to the years between 1460 and 1520 when an Italian surgeon named Giovanni d’Vigo advised preparation of the teeth before filling them with careful excavation and shaping of the cavities. They did this with: trephines, files, and scalpels. Next, the teeth were filled with gold leaf. At the same time, to prevent infection, arsenic was used to kill the tissue. This procedure was still in use until Novocain was introduced in the twentieth century.
The first time the term dentista (dentist) was used in print was when Ambrosise Pare, who was a military surgeon in the French army, wrote it in his journals about 1590. Later, in 1683 while using the then newly invented microscope, a Dutch tooth-drawer changed the world’s view of teeth, mouth and other oral concerns with his reports of his discoveries and explanations of what he saw and learned about teeth and gums when using the microscope.
Then, in France, in 1728, Pierre Fauchard wrote of his experiences and discoveries in dental surgery. He also warned against dangerous methods then used to treat toothache in many of the city’s unclean and shoddy tooth barbershops. Fauchard was also quite adept at using silk, linen and metal threads to fasten artificial teeth and bridges(false teeth) in place. Because he explained his methods freely to other tooth surgeons, his bold thinking and methods helped advance dental practice in many ways.
Now, skipping ahead to today in 2009, as you know, dentistry has become an accepted profession where reliable and safe operations are performed every day all over the world. If you have a toothache, your dentist will first ease your pain with an injection of Novocain, then he will use a high speed, water-cooled drill to repair (or remove) your aching tooth.
Should you need to have one or more of your natural teeth removed, your dentist has the knowledge and skills to do that operation as painlessly as is humanly possible. When dentures are required to “fill the gap” your dentist knows exactly how to satisfy your need using modern acrylic plastics. The result will be the most natural looking false teeth ever produced. With your new dentures in your mouth you will understand clearly how your mouth has gone from near disaster to near perfection so you can again: smile, laugh, chew your food, and speak clearly.
A modern denture will have everything needed for your oral comfort while eating: stability, support and good retention. Because of these three benefits, your confidence in your denture will give you peace of mind as you meet people, smile, talk and chew your food. In addition, the denture will be durable enough to last for years.
But, keep in mind that your new denture will eventually get loose due the natural shrinkage of your now toothless jaws and gums. When this happens you will find it necessary to stop that looseness by “filling the gaps” with your choice of (1) the addition of an expensive acrylic plastic liner bonded to the upper part of your denture by your dentist, or (2) you can a use a new patent pending denture liner that is: soft, flexible, washable, re-usable and removable: the new Weber Denture Liner. For more information you are cordially invited to go to the following website.
This is Part 2 of the “History of False Teeth and Dentures” series. A new Part 3 will be published in the near future.
Source by Terry Weber