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Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions. Dental care has changed drastically over the years, with most scientific developments occurring in the last few centuries. Dr. J. Whitley Wills and our team are excited to explore the history of dentistry with you.

The first text found documenting dentistry dates back to 5000 BC. Sumerians wrote that “tooth worms” cause tooth decay. This idea wasn’t disproven until the 1700s. Hesy-Re, an Egyptian scribe, is the first documented dentist. His tomb, which dates back to 2600 BC, has an inscription that includes the title: “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” From 500 to 300 BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry. Their written works included the eruption pattern of teeth, how to treat teeth and gum disease, how to extract teeth with forceps, and how to use wires to stabilize loose teeth or fractured jaws.

Not much is known about dentistry before the 1700s. However, we know that in 1210 lay barbers were established who performed tooth extractions. In 1530, the first book entirely devoted to dentistry, The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth, was published in Germany.

In 1723, Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon, published the first book describing a comprehensive system for the practice of dentistry: The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise of Teeth. Fauchard was credited as the Father of Modern Dentistry.

1840 marked the founding of the first dental school, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. In 1859, twenty-six dentists met at Niagara Falls, New York, and formed the American Dental Association.

In the 1900s, many new techniques and technologies were discovered, including Novocain. In 1960, lasers were developed and began to be used for soft tissue procedures, like gum disease treatment. The development of tooth-colored restorative materials led to an era of aesthetic dentistry.

If you would like to learn more about dentistry in Memphis, Tennessee, and to schedule an appointment with our dentist, feel free to contact our dental office soon.