Dental Treatments Then and Now

/ Dentistry

Even though dentists are here to make our pearly whites shine and sparkle, these specialists have been feared for ages. Centuries ago, people were petrified about getting a simple toothache checked because the procedures were blood-curling. Dental treatments today have come a long way and are being rapidly advanced. But back then, there was no way to numb the pain and a discomfort-free experience at the dentist’s clinic was not an option.

Here is an interesting comparison between ancient and modern dental procedures which will make you feel glad for not being alive decades ago!

Hakeem’s Fun Fact: Cavities originated over 12000 years ago! The oldest dental work dates back to 14,000 years ago where the individual’s decayed tooth was drilled brutally and most probably, painstakingly.

1)      Anesthesia then and now

Around 1000 years ago in Peruvian culture, dentists gave cocoa leaves to make the tooth attraction less painful. It was a common practice back then, even though sometimes the patient ended up screaming in agony. Now, the most commonly used anesthesia is lidocaine which also goes by the names xylocaine and lignocaine and is a replacement for novocaine. It makes entirely all the treatments painless.

2)      Alignment then and now

In ancient times if the mouth of the individual was crowded, healthy teeth were extracted to make room for the erupting teeth and were also removed to let the person chew food properly. In the early Roman era, gold wires were widely used to help push back teeth. Now, people can get braces to help correct their bite, and straighten their teeth from orthodontic experts.

Old tools used for dental procedures by prehistoric dentists.
A replication of ancient dental tools from the mid-century.

View the best dentists for: Ceramic braces, Damon braces, Fixed braces, Incognito braces, Lingual braces and Metal braces.

3)      Teeth replacements then and now

To replace the missing teeth that had fallen out due to severe decay or had been extracted due to infection, the Mayans used shells. If we go back the dental timeline even more, the prehistoric dentists used beeswax to fill empty tooth spaces. They were also used for fillings! Now, crowns are used to cover discolored teeth, replace broken and damaged teeth, and cover teeth treated with a root canal. Many different types of crowns are available, some less expensive than the others. To explore your options, book an appointment with the best dentist in your area.

4)      Tooth-ache remedies then and now

Egyptians had a very bizarre take on oral health. They used a half-cut dead mice to cure toothaches! They placed the mouse on the impacted area and believed that it possessed the power to rid the individual of the pain. Imagine having a tail waggling down your lips! Fortunately now, toothaches can be cured with medication and mouth creams.

Herbal remedies for toothaches.
An old potion mixed with herbs to cure toothaches!

5)      Toothpaste then and now

The Romans put human urine on their toothbrushes and scrubbed their teeth ‘clean’. It is even said that urine from Portugal made a good toothpaste. Cringe! Thankfully, now we flavored toothpaste of all kinds to help cater to the different types of teeth.

Hakeem’s Tip: Replace your toothbrush every three months and to avoid harming the enamel, use brushes with soft-bristles.

Comparison between an old and new toothbrush.
An old brush can't fight off the food stuck in-between teeth!

Next time you head over to the dentist, feel grateful for being born in the 21st century!


Hello, I'm Ayesha and I would love to hear your feedback. P.S If you want to be featured on the Hakeem website, send me an email at [email protected]!

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