Regina M. Dailey

Fun Facts

dental caseOne of the greatest gifts to mankind was made by an American dentist named Horace Wells, who first applied nitrous oxide as an anesthetic to block pain during invasive dental procedures. In Connecticut in 1844, Dr. Wells attended a lecture that included a demonstration of the effects of nitrous oxide on audience volunteers. He observed that a volunteer who hurt himself while under the influence of nitrous oxide showed no reaction to the pain. The next day, Dr. Wells inhaled nitrous oxide and had an associate remove one of his teeth. As he suspected, Dr. Wells felt no pain during the procedure. The euphoria nitrous oxide caused lead to its popular name "laughing gas." By 1868, techniques combining nitrous oxide with oxygen paved the way for the use of "laughing gas" during both dental and surgical procedures.

Adapted from Medical Discoveries - Travers and Freiman


toothbrushThe earliest toothbrushes were small sticks mashed at one end, breaking the wood fibers into a broad cleaning surface. The bristle brush was probably invented by the Chinese and brought to Europe during the seventeen century. The first functioning electric toothbrush was developed in Switzerland and introduced to the United States in 1960.

Adapted from Medical Discoveries - Travers and Frieman


toothpasteSince ancient times, people have devised pastes for cleaning teeth and freshening breath. Early Egyptian, Chinese, Greek and Roman writings all describe numerous mixtures for use as pastes or powders. Ingredients ranged from the appetizing - ground fruit, honey, dried flowers - to the unappetizing - mice, rabbit heads, lizard livers and urine. Unfortunately, early toothpastes often included substances that eroded tooth enamel, such as ground nut husks, shells, grit and talc.

Adapted from Medical Discoveries - Travers and Frieman


toothpasteDentist Washington W. Sheffield is credited as the first to put toothpaste into a collapsible tube in 1892. Today, jokes and speculation abound regarding what it means to be a "middle-squeezer" verses an "end-roller." Fortunately, pump dispensers entered the market in 1984, potentially restoring harmony in many households. Of course, the age old complaint of the "cap left off the tube" continues.

Adapted from Medical Discoveries - Travers and Frieman


nailsEarly Chinese tooth-pullers used their fingers to remove compromised teeth, developing the necessary strength for these procedures by spending hours pulling nails out of blocks of wood.

Medical Discoveries - Travers and Frieman


barber poleIn fourteen-century England, barbers regularly extracted teeth in addition to offering hair cuts. The traditional barbershop pole, with red and white spirals, was used to advertise yet another service: bleeding of the sick. Creative barbers would adorn the poles with teeth they had pulled.

Medical Discoveries - Travers and Freiman


millstoneThe crude millstones used by early Egyptians shed abrasive stones into the flour used to make bread. Unfortunately, this caused tremendous damage and excessive wear to the teeth, making the millstones the principle cause of dental disease among poor and the wealthy alike.

The teeth of this New Kingdom skull found at Deir el Bahari, illustrate the damage caused by abrasives in the flour.

Dentistry, an Illustrated History, Ring


mandibleThis mandible, found by Dr. and Mrs. Wilson Popenoe in Honduras in 1931, has three pieces of shell in place of the lower incisors. Dating from 600 A.D., this is the earliest example of presumed successful dental implants.

Dentistry, an Illustrated History, Ring


bridgeThis bridge dates from between the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. and features four human teeth and two carved ivory teeth, all bound together with gold wire.

Dentistry, an Illustrated History, Ring


instrumentsAncient dental forceps were often shaped like animal heads, with corresponding names that allowed even the untrained to assist. These handy tools also doubled for other uses, such as removing an arrow head from a patient.

Illustration from: Dentistry, an Illustrated History, Ring


wooden teethThese wooden teeth from the Tokugawa era were precursors to the modern dowel crown, used to replace a dead tooth.

Illustration from: Dentistry, an Illustrated History, Ring


early denturesEarly dentures used a spring to hold the set together inside the mouth. This set of George Washington's dentures were made of gold and ivory by John Greenwood.

Illustration from: Dentistry, an Illustrated History, Ring


illustration of dentist bandaging patient's mouth This image of a dentist bandaging a patient's mouth dates back to thirteenth century France.

Illustration from: Dentistry, an Illustrated History, Ring


 
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