No wonder most people are afraid of the dentist; dental procedures have such a painful history.
For this write-up, the focus will be on teeth realignment: which has been a concern for people as early as Ancient Egypt. Yes, crooked teeth has been a problem for more than three millennia, as proven by archaeologists. It is a problem that has led to many different and rather creative solutions.
Crooked Fashion Statements
There were no advanced dentistry tools until several decades ago, so if you are a person living 50,000 years away, a dentist appointment would have used whatever tools they had lying around.
Take the Etruscans, for example, who made a tradition out of adorning their teeth with gold. It was more of a distraction than a solution, however, given gold’s softness. It was the Greeks and Romans who ventured to fix things, no matter how painful the process would be by modern standards.
Not Quite There Yet
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote the first known description of tooth irregularities around 400 B.C. Celsus, a writer from Rome, wrote four centuries later that people should push their teeth into position immediately after they emerge. Meanwhile, Pliny the Elder, another Roman, suggested filing teeth to size. Dentists from Cuffley Village Dental Practice describe this as nothing more than a method of quickly, manually damaging teeth.
Matthaeus Gottfried Purmann, a surgeon from 17th century Germany at least had the right idea when he used wax to take impressions, which then inspired colleague Phillip Pfaff to use plaster. Pierre Fauchard, the father of modern dentistry, would not enter the field for another few decades. He is responsible for inventing the bandeau, the first iteration of the modern dental brace.
Today, people benefit from centuries’ worth of advancements in dentistry, but some are still not satisfied. Straighter teeth are now attainable within months, and without all the pain. Knowing the procedures ancient dentists conducted, it is easy to appreciate ‘metal mouth’ and the effective, painless results.