Did George Washington really have wooden teeth? Myth Debunked
History of Dentistry
Many may be unaware of this, but Dentistry dates back to 5000 BC when they referred to the cause of dental cavities by tooth worms. The first so called dentist was Hesy-Re recorded by an Egyptian scribe in 2600 BC. Following this in 300 BC the famous Hippocrates and Aristotle write about how to treat decaying teeth, stabilizing loose teeth with some type of metal wire, and how to extract a tooth with forceps.
As we enter 201 AD Etruscans introduced bridge work with gold crowns. As we enter the 1200 AD a Guild of Barbers developed which not only cut hair, but also did dentistry. This group of barbers eventually split either between surgeons who performed dental surgeries or lay barbers who did cleanings and tooth extractions. Expanding on this progression in 1500 AD the first book devoted entirely to dentistry came out known as The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Disease and Infirmities of the Teeth.
Following this in the 1700's Fauchard gathered everything known about dentistry and wrote a book called the Surgeon Dentist. This book covered everything from diagnosis to orthodontics. He was the first to establish dentistry as its own profession. In 1760, John Baker becomes the first trained and practicing dentist in America. Also during this time many do not know that Paul Revere was also a dentist. He was starting to introduce post-mortem dental forensics. He also developed his own line of dental instruments quite similar to what we use today.
As we enter the late 1700's many dental advances began such as the dental chair invented by Josiah Flagg, and the first dental foot engine invented by John Greenwood. Finally we get to George Washington who throughout his life suffered from aching teeth, inflamed gums, and ill-fitting dentures. One of the myths about him was that he had wooden teeth. However, this was not the case his dentures were constructed from bone, human teeth, gold wire, and lead.
As we enter the 19th century Samuel Stockton creates the first porcelain teeth and the Crawcours brothers introduce amalgam filling material. Later Charles Goodyear develops a process for rubber hardening which creates a good base for dentures called volcanite. By mid-century Horace and chapin found Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. This was the first dental school in America. Shortly after this the American Dental Association was founded in a meeting that took place in Niagara Falls, New York. Along with Sanford developing the rubber dam still in use today. As we enter the late 1800's the dental chair was redefined as a hydraulic lift chair introduced by Wilkerson. As well as dental X-ray's were developed.
As we enter the 20th century, Alfred Einhorn develops procain later better known as novacain, During the 1930's the first dental specialty board, The American Board of Orthodontics was founded. The nylon toothbrush was developed along with screw implants. Another important advancement was the introduction of water fluoridation which had a huge hand in cutting back the number of cavities in people. Toward the mid 1900's many new inventions which would lead dentistry into the 21st century were coming about. A few of these include, John Borden creates the high speed air driven handpiece, the fully reclining chair, first CAD CAM dental products, and erbium YAG laser to be used on dentin. This was a brief interesting history of dentistry, please leave any comments or questions.