Dentistry: Then And Now (Infographic)

Dentistry is a field of medicine that includes the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of oral diseases. Additionally, it has to do with the promotion of oral health and the maintenance and restoration of the oral cavity.

Today, a majority of us see the dentist twice a year. Dental professionals clean our teeth and check for any indications of oral health problems. But our teeth would not be what they are today without dentistry’s advancements. In fact, this is apparent when we look at the teeth of those who never attend the dentist.

While we think dentistry is modern, its history traces its root to ancient civilization. Surprisingly, the earliest indication of its practice dates back to 7,000 B.C.

It is interesting to see how this field changed over time. Speaking of which, below is a timeline of significant dates, discoveries, and inventions of dentistry. Certainly, its development is lengthier than we thought!

Dentistry – Then And Now

B.C. Through the 19th Century:

  • 5000 B.C. – “Tooth worms” were described in a Sumerian text as the cause of tooth decay. While tooth decay clearly isn’t caused by worms, the fact that signs of tooth decay were noticed as a problem this early on means our ancestors took charge of their health!
  • 2600 B.C. – Death of Hesy-Re, who we presume to be the first “dentist”
  • 500 to 100 B.C. – Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Celsus write about dentistry and oral health.
  • 1530 – Artzney Buchlein writes the first book entirely devoted to dentistry in Germany.
  • 1723 – Father of Modern Dentistry, Pierre Fauchard, published Le Chirurgien Dentiste. Thus, he became the first to comprehensively describe the practice of dentistry.
  • 1790 – John Greenwood, one of George Washington’s dentists, makes the first known dental foot engine.
  • 1825 – Samuel Stockton manufactures porcelain teeth.
  • 1832 – James Snell creates the first reclining dental chair.
  • 1833 – Edward Crawcour and his nephew Moses Crawcour introduce amalgam fillings in the United States.
  • 1839 – Charles Goodyear invents economical denture bases made of vulcanized rubber.
  • 1840 – The world’s first dental school Baltimore College of Dental Surgery is founded by Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris. In fact, it still exists today.
  • 1841 – The first dental practice act is enacted in Alabama.
  • 1846 – William Morton conducts the first successful public demonstration of ether anesthesia.
  • 1880s – Tube toothpaste (however, without fluoride) begins mass production and mass marketing.
  • 1882 – Codman and Shurtleff makes un-waxed dental floss available for commercial use.
  • 1895 – C. Edmond Kells takes the first dental X-ray in the US.
  • 1899 – Forms of malocclusion are classified by Edward Hartley Angle.

20th Through the 21st Century:

  • 1903 – Charles Land invents porcelain jacket crown.
  • 1938 – Nylon toothbrushes enter the market.
  • 1945 – Newburgh, New York and Grand Rapids, Michigan start fluoridating the public water system.
  • 1950 – Fluoride toothpaste is first marketed.
  • 1957 – John Borden launches the era of high-speed dentistry with his Airotor.
  • 1958 – A fully reclining dental chair is introduced.
  • 1960 – The first commercial electric toothbrush appears in the United States.
  • 1990 – The era of aesthetic dentistry rises with new tooth-colored restorative materials and the use of bleaching, veneers, and implants
  • 1991 – Toothpaste with fluoride hits the market. Thus, tooth decay would soon reduce.
  • 21st century – Computer technology merges with dentistry for the diagnosis and treatment of dental diseases. As a result, comprehensive research on oral health increases. Likewise, the importance of dentistry to overall health is given a greater focus and inclusion in health care.

After seeing how dentistry has shifted over the years, we can have a greater appreciation for this field. We can thank our dentists. Also, we can thank scientists and investors. Lastly, we can give thanks to our distant ancestors. After all, it is numerous individuals who have pitched in.

Nevertheless, some say brushing and flossing is enough. However, others argue that attending biannual appointments at the dentist is critical.

Here at Hawaii Family Dental, we say modern dentistry is something we all should take advantage of. After all, a dentist’s job is like no other. Who catches cavities before they begin hurting your mouth? Who cleans the stuck-on tartar off your teeth when you can’t? And, who conducts oral cancer screenings to make sure you’re healthy? Dentists!

Schedule your appointment at Hawaii Family Dental today. Many members of our team are considered Honolulu Magazine’s “Best Dentists.” We take pride in cleaning your pearly whites. Additionally, it is our duty to ensure your oral health is top-notch. In fact, walking out of our dental office, you’ll be flashing your smile like never before.

Along with biannual appointments, it is critical to brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash daily. Likewise, it’s important to consume healthy foods and avoid foods that are harmful. Regardless, good oral health starts with you!


  • American Dental Association. (n.d.). History of Dentistry Timeline. Retrieved from American Dental Association Website:
  • Carrington College. (n.d.). The Dawn of Dentistry. Retrieved from Carrington College Website:
  • Kruszelnicki, K. (2001, March 30). News in Science. Retrieved from Australian Broadcasting Corporation Website:
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