A Quick History of Dentistry

When looking for a dentist for yourself and your family, your first instinct might be to check his/her dental history; i.e. years of practice and patient testimonials. This gives you an idea of what to expect. But have you ever wondered about the origins of dentistry itself?

The American Dental Organization provides a timeline of major milestones in the history of dentistry. We have highlighted some important ones below to give you an overview of how modern-day dental practice evolved.

  • Hesy-Re, an Egyptian scribe, is believed to have been the first “dentist.” How do we know this? From an inscription on his tomb (dating back to approximately 2600 BC) which makes references to “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.”
  • 1760 – John Baker, the earliest medically-trained dentist emigrated from England to set up practice in the United States.
  • 1825 – Samuel Stockton began the commercial manufacture of porcelain teeth.
  • 1832 – The first reclining dental chair was invented by James Snell.
  • 1833-1850 – Amalgam filling was introduced in the US by the Crawcours brothers.
  • 1839 – The world’s first dental journal, The American Journal of Dental Science, was published.
  • 1840 – Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris establish the world’s first dental school (Baltimore College of Dental Surgery) and the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree.
  • 1841, Alabama enacted the first dental practice act which regulated dentistry in the United States.
  • 1880s – Tube toothpaste was introduced. It was previously available only in liquid or powder form and sold in bottles, porcelain pots, or paper boxes.
  • 1896 – A New Orleans dentist, C. Edmond Kells took the first dental x-ray of a living person in the U.S.
  • 1903 – The porcelain jacket crown was devised by Charles Land.
    ➢ 1908 – Greene Vardiman Black published his monumental two-volume treatise, Operative Dentistry, which remained the essential clinical dental text for 50 years. He later developed techniques for filling teeth as well as standardized operative procedures and instrumentation.
  • 1938 – The nylon toothbrush first appeared on the market.
  • 1960 – Lasers were developed and approved for soft tissue work. The first commercial electric toothbrush was also introduced in the United States.
  • 1990 – A new era of aesthetic dentistry began with new tooth-colored restorative materials, plus increased usage of bleaching and veneers.



Watch this video to learn some more dental history.

Regular checkups provide your dentist with essential information about your oral health and contribute towards ‘your’ dental history. Your dental health provider will constantly refer to these records in order to provide effective treatments as well as keep track of your progress. These routine checks are important and work together with preventative and/or restorative treatments to help you maintain an attractive and healthy smile.

Call Brodhagen Dental Care in Green Bay at 920-499-2121 for a consultation and to learn more about our dental history.


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