Ancient Dentistry

It’s no secret that most people cringe at the very idea of going to the dentist. It’s not uncommon for many to feel a degree of anxiety about a mere dental cleaning. After all, the teeth are highly sensitive, and the thought of them being poked and prodded can send shivers up many people’s spines.

However, it’s important to keep things in perspective. The field of dental care has come a long way since its humble origins. In this post, we’ll be discussing some of the most methods and ideas in dentistry, and comparing them to modern solutions like the kind you’ll get at Cedar Creek Dental, your Rigby dental clinic. But first, let’s go over an interesting myth that was prevalent in ancient times.

The Tooth Worm

Rigby DentalThis is an ancient myth that was common across many regions and cultures, including:

  • Greece
  • Egypt
  • Japan
  • China
  • India

It is the belief that cavities were the result of a worm boring into and throughout the tooth. The idea may seem crazy at first, but it actually makes sense why so many people believed it. After all, cavities do look quite similar to the holes created when worms bore their way into wood, and without any understanding of what causes tooth decay, a better explanation is difficult to come up with.

The Discovery of 13,000-Year-Old Fillings

A pair of ancient incisors were discovered in Tuscany and recently examined via microCT scans, electron microscopy, and residue analyses.

The analyses revealed a clearly deliberate form of “dental work” in which the incisors were hollowed out using crude instruments (perhaps little more than sharpened rocks). Following the process of hollowing out the teeth, they were stuffed with an ancient “filling” comprised of hair, vegetable fibers, and bitumen (a black viscous substance that we use today for roofing and road surfacing).

We can only speculate about the process itself and whether or not some form of painkiller was involved, but in lieu of one, this procedure was no doubt agonizing. The tooth is comprised of a series of layers, beginning with the enamel, moving inward to the dentin, and finally reaching the center of the tooth where the tooth pulp resides (here is where the tooth nerve is contained). The pain one would invariably undergo throughout the process having their dentin bored into with sharp rocks and having the tooth pulp removed without painkillers is probably something not worth thinking about.

At our Rigby dental clinic, the last thing you need to worry about is “agony” when it comes to dental fillings. We use specialized tools, methods of sedation, and filling materials that are safe for the human body. In fact, we offer resin-based white dental fillings, which are even safer than amalgam (mercury-based) fillings that many dental clinics still use today.

Ancient Egyptian Dentistry

The ancient Egyptians knew a lot about the human body. The evidence for this lies in the mummification process and manuals outlining various surgical procedures. In one such manual entitled The Edwin Smith Papyrus (dating back to the creation of some of the earliest pyramids), we see 

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evidence of an early form of dentistry. Another called the Ebers Papyrus describes a remedy for loose teeth involving a combination of materials that could be compared to modern day amalgam fillings (which are not used as part of our Rigby dental services). The materials involved include:

  • Ground barley
  • Honey
  • Yellow ochre (as the antiseptic agent)

While the Egyptians utilized methods of drilling and extraction, it is unlikely that any real form of pain management was available until 1550 B.C.

During this time, dental work was likely considered a rare and ugly necessity. False teeth have never been found in mummies or in any Egyptian writings, which is unusual given the often decadent and lavish lifestyle many of them enjoyed.

Etruscan Dentistry

As a people concerned with aesthetics and luxury, it’s no surprise the Etruscans were the first to add a more artistic element to dental work. By incorporating a range of knowledge that was learned throughout their travels with their artistic sensibilities, they were the first people that we know of to experiment with gold methods of tooth preservation.

One preserved body includes a tooth wrapped in gold bands that were adhered to the tooth with heat.

At our Rigby dental clinic, our Porcelain Veneers and other means of enhancing the appearance of your smile would have surely made the Etruscan people proud.

Greek Dentistry

This story actually takes place in Egypt during the time in which it was ruled by Greek kings. During this time, a man named Thebes was in his late 20s or early 30s, but he was close to death. The man had lived a life of painful cavities, and these were likely the cause of a life-threatening sinus infection.

Thebes suffered from many cavities and abscesses, so much so that even a modern Rigby dentist would find the job a challenge.

The ruling Greek kings at the time attempted to treat Thebes with the following methods:

  • Pain relief via linen soaked in medicine and inserted into the cavities.
  • The prevention of food from entering and further infecting the cavities with protective cloth.

The ability to withstand a great amount of pain was a point of intense pride for the ancient Greeks, and our lack of much information regarding early forms of Greek dentistry indicates that they’d rather just “grin and bear it”.

At our Rigby dental clinic, we don’t expect you to have the pain threshold of a Spartan warrior. We offer a variety of methods to ease your pain and calm your nerves.

Dentistry in Ancient China

It’s believed that dental extractions were known to China around the year 6000 B.C. Over 3000 years later, they began treating dental pain with acupuncture (don’t worry, that’s not something we do at our Rigby dental clinic).

Around the time of 1000 A.D., Chinese doctors began using arsenic as a way of treating toothaches.

Interestingly enough, they also were some of the first people to begin using silver amalgam to fill cavities.

What You Can Expect from Our Rigby Dental Clinic

Rigby DentalAt Cedar Creek Dental, not only are we fully up-to-date with the laws and regulations in the field of dentistry, we go above and beyond with the safest materials we can use and a variety of spa-like amenities to make your time with us as relaxing and comfortable as possible.

These include:

  • Warm Hand-Wax
  • Aromatherapy
  • Warming Blankets
  • Chair Massage
  • And of course, Conscious Sedation

Once the procedure is done, we will send you off with a tasty sorbet, on us!

Ancient Dental Instruments - Rigby Dental