Have you ever wondered about the history of cosmetic dentistry? Visiting a cosmetic dentist today is a lot like spending a day at the spa, at least when compared to dental care thousands of years ago. Most people would assume that dental care techniques aimed at perfecting your smile would be a modern invention, but historians have traced the history of cosmetic dentistry back over 1300 years to 700 BC In this article we’ll take a closer look at cosmetic dentistry in ancient times.
Cosmetic dentistry got it’s start from the Etruscans, a civilization in ancient Italy who lived just north of Rome in an area we now call Tuscany. They lived here between 700 BC and 300 BC and were the first group of people to take basic dental care to a more artistic level. In fact, they were an incredibly intelligent civilization who constantly strived to further their knowledge and improve their image. Because luxury was such an important concept to them, they pushed the medical field to it’s limits in an attempt to better their personal image and health.
Much of the dental knowledge they acquired was learned from travelling to faraway lands, which itself is a testament to their industrious and intelligent personalities. Using this knowledge, they began to experiment with cosmetic dentistry techniques such as gold fillings. They also experimented with using human teeth, animal teeth, bone and ivory as implants, which they fastened to the mouth using gold bands, thus creating some of the first examples of dentures. The human teeth used to create these ancient dentures were often removed from the mouths of the dead, but sometimes a donor would remove and sell their own teeth when they were short on money. The Etruscans continued to practice dentistry until they were conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC.
There is little recorded history of dental care after the Etruscan’s defeat until the 12th century AD. During this time, European civilizations became fascinated with health and dentistry and began offering dental services to the public. One of the first groups of people to begin offering dental care during this period were barbers, who often provided dental care services such as teeth cleaning and brushing. The teeth cleaning techniques used were very primitive and normally involved scraping the teeth with a stick or an animal hair toothbrush. By 13th century AD, many barbers were also taking on the role of dental surgeons.
Cosmetic dentistry techniques stayed relatively the same until sometime between 1650 and 1800, when the science behind modern dental care began to be developed. In fact, dentistry was not even considered a profession until sometime during the 19th century. However, during the 1800’s porcelain teeth were invented, and subsequently revitalized the practice of cosmetic dentistry. In addition, vulcanite, a type of rubber that would come to be used in dentures and as a base for artificial teeth was discovered in the 1850s, marking another breakthrough for cosmetic dentistry. Soon after, cosmetic dentists began to manufacture dentures and artificial teeth.
The 1900’s is when most advances in cosmetic dentistry and dental care in general were developed. Some of these include the use of acrylics to make dentures, the development of porcelain crowns and other advances in teeth cleaning, dental implants and veneers. During this time is also when dentistry became commonplace in the United States and dental training programs were established. In the 1980’s a revolutionary technique which allowed dentists to permanently bond porcelain veneers teeth was developed and in the 1990’s we saw the introduction of laser teeth whitening systems.
Today, due to advancements in cosmetic dentistry over thousands of years, we’re able to keep our teeth for our entire lives and ensure they always look their best. The science and techniques behind dental care and cosmetic dentistry are constantly evolving and new methods are being developed all the time.
Are you in need of cosmetic dentistry services? Contact Smiles of Bellevue and Eastside Smiles today. We’re the leading providers of cosmetic dentistry procedures in the Bellevue, WA. area.