Monday, March 21, 2016

The Evolution of Dentistry through the Years

I went to my local dentist in Lansing, Michigan a few weeks ago and it dawned on me how happy I am to receive dental care now as opposed to any time in the past. Can you imagine tooth extraction in the 1800s? No thank you. Dentistry has seen a significant morphing from a basic skills profession to a specialized medical field. It has seen great strides from the 1700s when it was first seen as a standalone profession. Before this, one could very well be a barber, a minor surgeon, an embalmer as well as provide tooth extracting services. A rudimentary tool for tooth extraction called the turnkey was invented in the 1800s. This era included the use of tin, gold foil, lead and silver for filling while ivory and cattle teeth were used for dentures. These are some of the changes.

Anesthesia Development 

Dentistry got a huge boost in patient comfort with the development of sedation. This was in 1884 with the introduction of nerve block sedation by William Halstead. This was after the discovery and introduction of nitrous oxide and ether anesthesia for sedation and surgery in 1840. With the introduction of Novocain in 1907, dental procedures were now touted as being painless. Sedation soon became part and parcel of dental practice to this day.

Fillings Development

Fillings became popular in the 19th century, with the use of tin among others. Silver paste would be used to help preserve the health of diseased teeth by restoring form. The development of the first dental amalgam in 1816 made from a mix of silver and mercury gave way to greater development. This was baked porcelain inlays that filled cavities.

Filling amalgam

The manufacturing process of silver fillings was also developed further in 1895. Through the 20th century, constant study was done to develop the best bonding and enduring composites. Many of these materials had a polymer base, with some incorporating glass particles within. Every composite has had its strengths and weaknesses. This is especially with bonding and cracking challenges.

The use of mercury in these composites has also been frowned upon, encouraging the search for a safer and more enduring composite. Current developments have new treatment able to initiate accelerated teeth self-healing. This is by causing accelerated movement of minerals to the damaged tooth.

Technology Advancement

Teeth display your aesthetic appeal. The ability to whiten teeth as well as improve appearance make the development of laser treatment, over the counter drugs and pastes, as well as dentures, worth mentioning. These are from the far cry of rubber dams, lights and chemicals that were uncomfortable and ineffective.

Technology-assisted dentistry has also come a long way from the basic x-ray facilities to digital x-rays that not only reduce radiation exposure, but give a better image. This is achieved using computer aided dentistry technology. Diode lasers are now the instrument of choice to detect and remove cavities.

Looking back through the years, you are much better placed to receive safer and more comfortable dental care now. With the way it looks, dental care will only get better and more affordable.


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