In our previous blog post, we discussed the strange and unusual history of dentistry, which has certainly seen its fair share of ups and downs! Below are a few interesting historical facts about dentistry and teeth that we think are too cool not to share.
Ancient civilizations took care of their teeth with a “chew stick”, a thin twig with a frayed end that was rubbed against the teeth. However, it was not until the Tang Dynasty (619–907)—or 1498 in the Gregorian calendar—that the first toothbrush as we know it was invented. The brush used stiff, coarse hairs from the back of a hog’s neck attached to a bone or bamboo handle. Boar bristles were used until 1938, when nylon bristles were introduced.
The famous claim that George Washington sported a set of wooden teeth is little more than a myth. However, dental issues did plague Washington as early as his twenties. Rather of wood, Washington’s many sets of false teeth were made of rare hippopotamus ivory, human teeth, and metal fasteners. He took the oath of office while wearing a special set of dentures made from ivory, brass and gold.
As far back as 300 BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle contemplated ways to straighten the teeth and fix other dental conditions. Archaeologists have discovered mummies with metal bands wrapped around their teeth, as well as catgut, a type of cord made from the fibers of an animal’s intestines. The Etruscans buried their dead with dental appliances in place to prevent collapse during the afterlife, and entombed Romans have been found with gold wire bound around their teeth. Even Cleopatra is said to have worn a pair.
Western ancient peoples weren’t the only ones practicing dental work. Far away in the Americas, the Mayans were also practicing incredible feats of dentistry, namely embedding teeth with precious ornamental stones. Tiny holes were chipped out of teeth and stones such as jade were attached with an adhesive made out of natural resins, such as plant sap, which was mixed with other chemicals and crushed bones. What’s incredible about these decorations is that the dentists knew how to drill into the teeth without harming the dental pulp inside.
Of course, at Park Cedar Dentistry, we will probably not outfit your teeth with rubies and jade, but we will probably be much more delicate! If you need cosmetic dental services, general dentistry, or any other type of tooth care, stop by and see us at our office on Park Cedar Drive, or schedule an appointment with us here!