Tag: Dentistry

Tag: Dentistry

What is dentistry?

The term

The term dentistry comes from dentist, which comes from French dentiste, which comes from the French and Latin words for tooth.

A branch of medicine

Dentistry, also known as Dental and Oral Medicine, is a branch of medicine. It consists of the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral cavity. These are commonly in the dentition but also the oral mucosa, and of adjacent and related structures and tissues. Particularly in the maxillofacial (jaw and facial) area.

Although primarily associated with teeth among the general public, the field of dentistry or dental medicine is not limited to teeth. It includes other aspects of the craniofacial complex. This includes the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and other supporting, muscular, lymphatic, nervous, vascular, and anatomical structures.


Dentistry is often also understood to subsume the now largely defunct medical speciality of stomatology (the study of the mouth and its disorders and diseases). The two terms are used interchangeably in certain regions particularly in Poland.

Dental treatments are carried out by a dental team, which often consists of a dentist and dental auxiliaries (dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, as well as dental therapists).


The history of dentistry is almost as ancient as the history of humanity and civilization with the earliest evidence dating from 7000 BC. Remains from the early Harappan periods of the Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300 BC) show evidence of teeth having been drilled dating back 9,000 years.

Education of dentists in Poland is high and regulation is strict. To become a qualified dentist in Poland, students must first undergo five years of training at university. After completing their five-year course, graduates begin a 12-month work experience program. During this time they are only able to perform treatments under supervision. Following this, they must pass another exam in order to become fully qualified.

The history of dentistry

Dentistry is older than you think

The history of dentistry is fascinating. During the time of pre-agricultural societies, tooth decay was rare. The advent of farming 10,000 years ago correlated with an increase in tooth decay (cavities).

An infected tooth from Italy partially cleaned with flint tools, between 13,820 and 14,160 years old, represents the oldest known example of preventative dentistry. A 2017 study also suggests that 130,000 years ago the Neanderthals already used rudimentary dentistry tools.

Indus Valley Civilisation

The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) has yielded evidence of dentistry being practised as far back as 7000 BC. An IVC site in Mehrgarh indicates that this form of dentistry involved curing tooth related disorders with bow drills operated, perhaps, by skilled bead crafters. The reconstruction of this ancient form of dentistry showed that the methods used were reliable and effective.

The earliest dental filling, made of beeswax, was discovered in Slovenia and dates from 6500 years ago. Dentistry was practiced in prehistoric Malta, as evidenced by a skull which had an abscess lanced from the root of a tooth dating back to around 2500 BC.

An ancient Sumerian text describes a “tooth worm” as the cause of dental caries. Evidence of this belief has also been found in ancient India, Egypt, Japan, and China. The legend of the worm is also found in the writings of Homer, and as late as the 14th century AD the surgeon Guy de Chauliac still promoted the belief that worms cause tooth decay.

Hippocrates & Aristotle

Ancient Greek scholars Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry. This included the eruption pattern of teeth, treating decayed teeth and gum disease, extracting teeth with forceps, and using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws.

Historically, dental extractions have been used to treat a variety of illnesses. During the Middle Ages and throughout the 19th century, dentistry was not a profession in itself, and often dental procedures were performed by barbers or general physicians. Barbers usually limited their practice to extracting teeth which alleviated pain and associated chronic tooth infection.

Dental instruments

Instruments used for dental extractions date back several centuries. In the 14th century, Guy de Chauliac most probably invented the dental pelican (resembling a pelican’s beak) which was used to perform dental extractions up until the late 18th century. The pelican was replaced by the dental key which, in turn, was replaced by modern forceps in the 19th century.

Tooth cleaning and decay

Since before recorded history, a variety of oral hygiene measures have been used for teeth cleaning. This has been verified by various excavations done throughout the world, in which chew sticks, tree twigs, bird feathers, animal bones and porcupine quills have been found. In historic times, different forms of tooth cleaning tools have been used.

Indian medicine (Ayurveda) has used the neem tree, or daatun, and its products to create teeth cleaning twigs and similar products; a person chews one end of the neem twig until it somewhat resembles the bristles of a toothbrush, and then uses it to brush the teeth.

In the Muslim world, the miswak, or siwak, made from a twig or root, has antiseptic properties and has been widely used since the Islamic Golden Age. Rubbing baking soda or chalk against the teeth was also common; however, this can have negative side effects over time.


As early as the 7th century BC, Etruscans in northern Italy made partial dentures out of human or other animal teeth fastened together with gold bands. The Romans had likely borrowed this technique by the 5th century BC.

Wooden full dentures were invented in Japan around the early 16th century. Softened bees wax was inserted into the patient’s mouth to create an impression, which was then filled with harder bees wax. Wooden dentures were then meticulously carved based on that model. The earliest of these dentures were entirely wooden, but later versions used natural human teeth or sculpted pagodite, ivory, or animal horn for the teeth.

The first porcelain dentures were made around 1770 by Alexis Duchâteau.

History of dentistry – Images

While going to the dentist is something that many people dread, our fears must be nothing compared to what people in the past had to contend with. The history of dentistry indeed reveals some downright terrifying practices. Check out these images

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Hazards in modern dentistry

It is not just one-way pain!

A lot of people don’t like going to the dentist, it usually involves paying quite a lot of money for pain! However, it is not just one-way, there are hazards in modern dentistry and dentists are prone to many health problems. They often spend a considerable portion of their career in pain and discomfort.

The obvious occupational hazards are exposure to radiation, exposure to dangerous substances & sharps injuries. In addition, dentists also suffer from musculoskeletal problems & stress.

Musculoskeletal problems

Musculoskeletal problems are prevalent among dental professionals with problems beginning as early on as dental school.

The problems arise from the nature of the job: focusing on fine procedures which require a close visual field and sustained posture for long periods of time.

Repetitive work, the need to maintain steady hands, and spending most of the day with an awkward posture can lead to musculoskeletal pain in various sites. The lower back is commonly affected, as well as the upper back, shoulders and neck.


One of the key hazards in modern dentistry is stress. Recent studies show that dentists are at higher risk of stress-related incidences such as suicide, cardiovascular disease and mental health issues.

Potential reasons include work confinement, working with anxious patients, time pressures, complex treatment and personality traits within dentists themselves (the need for perfection, attention to detail, high expectations of themselves and others).


Education of dentists in Poland is high and regulation is strict. To become a qualified dentist in Poland, students must first undergo five years of training at university. After completing their five-year course, graduates begin a 12-month work experience program. After this, they can then think about specialising – so the stress begins early!