3 Scary Dental Tools of the Past

A Brief Overview of the Evolution of Dental Care

For nearly as long as there have been people, humans have been trying to understand teeth. For example, a Sumerian text from 5000 BC records that the cause of dental decay was believed to be “tooth worms.” Around 2600 BC, an Egyptian scribe, doctor, and government official named Hesy-Re, dubbed as “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians” on his tombstone, is ostensibly the first recorded dental practitioner. During the Middle Ages, the dental profession focused on treating infected teeth with barber-surgeons who performed tooth extractions and the publication of books like the Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth. It wasn’t until the 1800s that the practice of preventive dental care began to flourish, evolving eventually into the dental hygiene guidelines and recognized treatment standards we know today.

Thankfully, These 3 Dental Tools Are Past Their Prime!

All along this dentistry timeline, early “teeth experts” implemented some unusual dental tools that may make you cringe and appreciate the amazing advancements in our modern-day dental technology.

  • Obvious Orthodontics

Textbook sketch of a man wearing old-fashioned orthodontic headgear to straighten his smile and move his jaw

Past dentists made use of obtrusive headgear that appears both conspicuous and painful. Fortunately, the expert Phoenix dentists at Arizona Biltmore Dentistry can use clear aligners and ClearCorrect™ aligner therapy to effectively and comfortably straighten your teeth and correct issues with bite alignment without anyone even noticing!

  • Primitive Dental Forceps

During the time of the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Hippocrates and for centuries afterward, dental practitioners used rudimentary silver forceps, without any numbing agent, to literally yank infected teeth from the mouths of their patients. In cases when the person doing the extraction was untrained, it was not uncommon for the afflicted patient to end up with a broken jaw!

  • Death by Anesthesia

Considering how painful early dentistry was, practitioners and their patients looked for ways to manage that discomfort. In 1000 BC, patients drank alcohol until they blacked out. In 1846, in the first public demonstration of anesthetic, Dr. William Morton successfully removed a tumor from the jaw of a patient given diethyl ether, a colorless liquid with a distinct smell, at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Ether became extremely popular among dentists and was administered using an ether inhaler. However, ether was not an ideal compound for anesthesia; a possible side effect was death! This prompted the switch to nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas.

Come Check Out Our Modern Dental Tools & Technology!

As knowledge of all aspects of teeth has expanded, the tools of the dental arts have advanced for the betterment of society’s oral health and safety. While the dental tools of the past are the stuff of nightmares, all of us at Arizona Biltmore Dentistry pride ourselves on our practice’s cutting-edge technology. Modern technology is not only more precise and efficient, but it’s much more comfortable for our patients too! Schedule your biannual dental appointment so you can check out our neat dental gadgetry and we can check up on the health of your teeth and gums. Contact us today!

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