The History of Dentistry with Des Moines Dentist

The science of dentistry has traveled a long road to reach its current level of advancement. Evidence suggests that the practice of operating on teeth is several thousands of years old, and today dentistry is a leading industry for technological advancement. To celebrate his passion for his craft, Dr. Stephen Burds takes you on a journey through the history of dentistry.

A Dental Journey Through Time

  • 7000 BC—Evidence of ancient dentistry was discovered in a Neolithic graveyard in Pakistan. Teeth from people in the Indus Valley Civilization displayed nearly perfect holes drilled into their structure. The teeth dated from about 7000 to 5500 BC.
  • 2600 BC—Hesy-Re, an Egyptian scribe, passes away. Often referred to as “the first dentist,” Hesy-Re’s tomb holds the inscription “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” This is the earliest known reference to someone as a dental practitioner.
  • 166-201 AD—The Etruscans use gold crowns and fixed bridgework as dental prosthetics.
  • 700—A Chinese medical text mentions the use of “silver paste,” a kind of amalgam.
  • 1683—Antony van Leeuwenhoek identified oral bacteria under a microscope.
  • 1760—John Baker immigrates to America from England. He is the earliest medically-trained dentist to practice in America.
  • 1776—Paul Revere verifies the death of Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed in the Battle of Breed’s Hill, by identifying the dental bridge that he constructed for Warren. This is the first known case of post-mortem dental forensics.
  • 1780—William Addis makes the first modern toothbrush while in an English jail for starting a riot.
  • 1844—A Connecticut dentist named Horace Wells uses nitrous oxide as an anesthetic on several tooth extraction patients. His public demonstration in 1845 was considered a failure when the patient cried out during the operation. A student of Wells’, William Morton, takes credit for the discovery after a successful public demonstration where he used ether as anesthetic during a surgery.
  • 1859—The American Dental Association is formed by 26 dentists who met in Niagara Falls, New York.
  • 1901—Novocaine is introduced by German chemist, Alfred Einhorn.
  • 1938—The first nylon toothbrush, made with synthetic bristles, appears.
  • 1940—Twenty-two thousand dentists serve in World War II.
  • 1945— Grand Rapids, Michigan, Newburgh, and New York add sodium fluoride to their public water systems, beginning the water fluoridation era.
  • 1960’s—Lasers are developed and approved for soft tissue procedures.
  • 1990’s—Cosmetic, or aesthetic, dentistry is inaugurated with new tooth-colored restorative materials and an increase in bleaching, veneers, and implants.

Dentistry has taken quite a ride. If you would like to take advantage of advanced dentistry to achieve your perfect smile, contact Dr. Burds at Gateway Dental Group at (515) 244-9565 to request a consultation. We welcome patients from River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.