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100 Years of Dental Health: 3 Major Changes


Evolution is a natural process in every aspect of life. Dental health is no exception to this phenomenon. Changes over the years have allowed the field to make great progress. While you may still dread going to a dentist’s office, changes in their practices have become a lot safer and a lot less painful than what you would encounter back in the 1800s.

The advancements in oral health and dental procedures made it possible for everyone to sport a beautiful smile. Today, dentists make use of high-tech equipment and techniques that are superior to the ones used in the past. The following is a short look at the changes in dental health that have happened over the past century.

1. Better Access to a Dentist

In the early 1900s, many people didn’t bother going to the dentist. Instead, the dentist came to them! “Street dentists” were extremely popular. They would roam from block to block, offering dental remedies and care to anyone who needed them.

Street dentists weren’t licensed and many lacked proper training. And, at the time, there weren’t regulations or sanitation rules.

Dental treatments were quite strange. Some included the use of beeswax, wire, thread and even urine. Dentures were made with animal teeth or teeth that were looted from corpses. Some treatments were done without the use of anesthetic. Anyone getting them done had to do so at their own risk.

By 1931, the American Society of Dental Surgeons was established. With strict regulations and more emphasis on training, licensing and sanitation, different dentistry practices came into being. This laid the foundation for the modern day dentistry practice.

dentist holding up tools

2. Improved Dental Care 

The quality of dental care today definitely outweighs the dental care that was previously offered. Technological advancements have made it possible for someone with a toothache to walk into a dentist’s office for an X-ray and treatment. The tools dentists use and what we use at home are now modern and efficient.

Dental Toothbrushes

In the past, the best that one had was a natural brush with boar bristles. Developed in Ancient China, people started using it frequently in the 17th and the 18th centuries. By 1885, the toothbrush was being mass-produced by companies in the United States.

By 1983, the toothbrush was being made with nylon bristles. Electric toothbrushes were made by 1939 in Switzerland but were not released into the marketplace until 1954. By 1960, the electric toothbrush was being mass produced and widely adopted by professionals and for personal use as well.

And of course, dentists now use high-powered toothbrushes that incorporate ultrasonic or sonic technology to thoroughly clean your teeth.

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Lasers for Dental Use

The use of lasers for medical purposes was introduced around the years 1967 to 1970. Lasers were later used in dentistry around 1989. American Dental Laser was a pioneer, but the product could not be used on hard tissue. Despite this factor, it was widely adopted by dentists all over since a dedicated laser for dental use eased treatment on soft tissue.

By 1990, the laser was being used in the United Kingdom as well. New lasers were also in the works. By 1997, a prototype of a new laser had been developed, and it is still widely used today. Additionally, the FDA eventually gave its approval for the development of a new laser which could be used on hard tissue.

Use of Dental Anesthesia 

It’s horrifying to think that many dental procedures were conducted without the use of anesthesia. But, there were some solutions. For example, the Chinese relied on the use of acupuncture to deal with tooth decay and related pain. In 1846, Dr. William T.G. Morton was the first dentist who used ether as an anesthetic for his dental patients.

However, ether would render the patient unconscious instead of numbing the area. For this reason, other alternative means were being considered. Nitrous oxide and cocaine were popular choices until the development and introduction of procaine in 1905. Today, there are plenty of anesthetics which numb the area and make it possible for one to experience minimal pain during dental procedures.

3. Cosmetic Dentistry 

A symmetrical smile has been desired throughout the ages. Bad teeth with gaps and discolorations were often frowned upon. So it’s not hard to believe that cosmetic dentistry is not a new branch. In fact, it dates back to ancient civilizations.


Braces are useful for straightening and aligning teeth. They can be used to help widen the abnormal curvature of the palate. This allows the teeth to grow properly.

Ancient civilizations understood the necessity for braces. Mummies have been found with gold bands in their teeth that were held together with catgut or gold wire.

It wasn’t until the 1700s that metal braces were introduced with a horseshoe-shaped metal band. It helped shape the natural arch of the mouth and teeth. By 1819, they had been replaced with wire cribs that closely resemble the braces used today.

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Teeth Whitening

Whiter teeth were also considered extremely desirable. People used a number of different remedies for it: from brushing their teeth with abrasive powders to using urine and wine to wash their mouth. Harsh chemicals like bleach were also used. Yet the damage that bleach caused to the enamel and soft tissue of the mouth made it a bad option.

By the 1980s, peroxide gels and solutions had replaced bleach. As the demand for whiter teeth through safer options kept rising, dentists developed a variety of methods. Today, the most popular one is LED light treatment with a whitening gel. This helps you get whiter teeth in the shortest time possible.

Now that we’re caught up to present day, do you know what the best part is? It’s that the field of dentistry is still changing, and advancements are being made every day. Our dental health will only get better and better.

If you’re looking to improve your dental health, try the Dental Collection from Primal Life Organics. It includes all-natural products such as an LED teeth whitening kit, Dirty Mouth Toothpowder, and more.

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