There are a lot of stories about dentistry throughout history. One of the most famous if of our own founding father, George Washington. When we hear stories about our first President, we often hear his dentures were made of wood. Even in school, teachers would mention this fun information, but is there any truth to it?
Well, the answer is yes…and no! It is most likely that our founding fathers denture base (or artificial gums) was made of wood, very common at the time, but the teeth would’ve been from a different source: other people’s teeth! Most likely from soldiers who had died in battle.
Much of the history of dentistry is pretty intriguing. From the first recorded ‘doctor of the tooth’, Hesy-Re, an Egyptian who lived around 2600 BC; to Aristotle, the famous philosopher, who wrote of an ancient form of braces to straighten teeth; to the father of modern dentistry, Pierre Fauchard, who, in 1728, was the first to apply a jeweler’s enamel over a thin gold plate.
Here are a few more fun facts from this fascinating history:
1. Queen Elizabeth was known to have discolored teeth. Why? Due to a popular and ancient myth, she believed in something called a dental worm that burrowed into teeth and caused sharp pain. To combat this ‘worm” she consumed copious amounts of sugar!
2. The first bristle toothbrush was invented in China during the Tang Dynasty and was made from stiff hogs hair!
3. The Maya Civilization used sea shells to replace teeth and are the earliest known example of dental implants (implants placed into the bone or, in this case, the mandible).
4. From the 5th to the 15th century you could have your dental work done by your barber! ‘Barber-surgeons’ could give you the latest style and pull a few teeth while your hair was drying! This combination profession often performed surgery on the battlefield and in their shops and this the reason barber poles are red and white today!
These are just a few of the historical facts dentistry has to offer.
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