The Many Advancements in General Dentistry Through the Ages

General dentistry has come a long way from the days of false teeth made from dead people or the rusty pliers yanking out rotten teeth. From the leaning dentist chair to sophisticated tools, to quick and efficient local anesthesia, general dentistry has seen great strides in technological advances and practice. In fact, the industry has never stopped changing as new discoveries and technologies continue to be part of it. Some of these wonderful inventions and understanding of oral health have led to many changes and new methods.

The Invention of the Toothbrush

The bristled toothbrush with a handle as we know it today—in its many variations and forms— did not fully breakthrough until 1938. The concept of the toothbrush, however, has been around for centuries. In its early forms, people used “chew sticks,” which was a thin twig with a frayed end. The Greeks used rough cloths. Early “bristled” versions used coarse hairs taken from the back of a hog’s neck or boar bristles and attached to handles made of bone or bamboo. It was then that Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush was one of the first to implement nylon bristles, which are far sturdier. In America, however, brushing one’s teeth was not a top preoccupation until after World War II. Interestingly enough, it was military hygiene practices that influenced the general public to pay close attention to their oral health. It was then that toothbrushes hit the mainstream and started to be mass produced. Around 1960 the first electric toothbrushes hit the market.


The concept of creating a compound that helps in cleaning teeth also got its start centuries before the type of toothpaste we have today. Early forms of toothpaste included a variety of ingredients including crushed rock salt, mint, pepper, burnt or ground shells. Modern versions of toothpaste hit the markets around 1800 and were mostly composed of soap and chalk. In 1873, Colgate launched the first nice-smelling toothpaste in a jar.  In the early twentieth century, fluoride—the natural mineral in your bones and teeth—was added to the toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay.

The Flouride in the Water

In the mid 20th century, Grand Rapids, Michigan introduced fluoride into their public water supply to help combat tooth decay. Scientists had linked high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in the water with low levels of tooth decay. This public health measure was taken primarily to try and prevent tooth problems in children. It was not long after that the fluoridation of water spread to other communities and soon to the entire United States. While this public health measure was and has been highly contested and argued over the decades, it has now become public practice.

How General Dentistry Moves Us Towards Better Care

It has been thanks to many people experimenting and venturing out, that some of the advancements in general dentistry have occurred. Today, America has advanced techniques, tools, and procedures that help people take care of their teeth and alleviate problems that arise without undergoing horrible scenarios. General dentistry is an ever-changing industry and has led to the spread of awareness and concern of the state of one’s own oral health. Like everything, of course, it requires maintenance and attention and taking care of your own teeth is important. Contact Nucleo Dental today and get your teeth checked and cleaned!


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