The History of Dentistry


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This InfoGraphic clearly explains the history of dentistry. Dentistry has evolved a lot over the last 5,000 years, and our goal was to lay out the most impactful advances in dentistry. For the average person, this infographic provides the perfect description of the history of dentistry over the last few thousand years. From the Chinese to the Egyptians to the modern dentists we have now, there is a clear path of innovation. View the infographic at

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The History of Dentistry

  1. 1. The History of Dentistry
  2. 2. Facts
  3. 3. 3000 B.C.
  4. 4. Egypt
  5. 5. • In Sumer (now Iraq) in 2000 BC people believed that tooth decay was caused by worms. This strange belief carried on in the West until Tudor Times.
  6. 6. • In the 18th century dentistry became more scientific. In 1728 a French dentist called Pierre Fauchard published a book called The Surgeon Dentist. In 1771 an Englishman called John Hunter published a book called The Natural History of the Human Teeth.
  7. 7. • Dentistry took huge leaps in the late 18th century and the 19th century. Porcelain false teeth were invented in 1770. In 1790 Josiah Flagg invented the dentists chair. In 1832 James Snell invented a reclining chair. In 1877 Basil Manly Wilkerson invented a hydraulic chair. Furthermore for centuries rich patients had gold fillings but amalgam was first used in Europe around 1820.
  8. 8. • Then in 1846 Henry Morton demonstrated the use of ether as an anaesthetic in dentistry. In 1864 George Fellows invented a clockwork dental drill. In 1875 Dr Green invented an electric dental drill. The air turbine dental drill (using compressed air) was introduced in 1957.
  9. 9. • Until the late 19th century dentists usually learned their trade by an apprenticeship. However in 1860 in Britain The Royal College of Surgeons introduced the Surgeons Licence in Dental Surgery. In 1879 a register of dentists was set up. To be included in the register you had to be qualified or you had to show you had practiced dentistry before 1879. In Britain only people on the register were allowed to use the word 'dentist' or 'dental surgeon' However you did not have to be on the register to practice surgery. You just couldn't use the words dentist or dental surgeon and of course there were ways around that!
  10. 10. • The British Medical Association was formed in 1880 and in 1895 Lilian Lindsey became the first female dentist in Britain. The first dental degree was awarded by Birmingham University in 1901. Then in 1921 the law was changed so only registered dentists could practice dentistry.
  11. 11. • With the introduction of the NHS in 1948 dental care in Britain became much better. Fluoride toothpaste was first sold in Britain in 1958. The first cordless electric toothbrush went on sale in 1961.
  12. 12. • The dental scanner was introduced in 1987. • For more information, visit: • dentistry/