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cosmetic dentistry

A Brief History of Cosmetic Dentistry

Look How Far We’ve Come!

Cosmetic dentistry is a relatively new area of dentistry.

Before, there weren’t very many ways to achieve a beautiful smile with most dentistry being focused on making your teeth healthy and strong rather than making your teeth look beautiful. Because of this, cosmetic dentistry did not really start up until the 1980s with the invention of resin cement.

However, there have been instances throughout history where dentistry attempted to make teeth look beautiful. Here are some notable practices our ancestors have used to keep their teeth looking healthy.

Ancient Methods of Fixing Your Smile

The Etruscans attempted to replace teeth using unusual materials. This is recorded as far back as 700 B.C. where the Etruscans made dentures with ivory and bone, as well as human and animal teeth (typically taken from the dead).

The Ancient Egyptians also dipped their hand in cosmetic dentistry, using gold to make dental crowns and dental bridges. For tooth replacements, the Ancient Egyptians sometimes used seashells, hammering them into their gums. Those weren’t the only unusual methods they choose in order to make their teeth more attractive. In order to remove stains from their teeth, the Ancient Egyptians created a toothpaste made of pumice stone and vinegar.

The Ancient Romans had their own unusual toothpaste concoction that they used to remove stains: their own urine. The ammonia in urine broke apart stains and whitened teeth, but there are much better options today. According to many historians, it was more typically used as a mouthwash. Either way, it’s not something most people would want to use today, despite its apparent capabilities as a tooth whitener.

Medieval Times

Dentistry was not always considered a separate practice. Oftentimes in the Middle Ages, dentistry was part of a barber’s job. Barbers filed teeth and used a coat to make them whiter, but the coat often destroyed the tooth’s enamel and thereby destroyed the tooth itself. Fortunately, barbers today have dropped the dentist aspect from their job and have left dentistry to the professionals.

During this time, Europeans rediscovered many lost practices of making their smile beautiful, most notably, the practice of using bone or ivory as dentures. However, as you can imagine, it wasn’t very comfortable. They also reattempted the practice of using human teeth from dead bodies, but the body often rejected the tooth.

Age of Enlightenment in Dentistry

Prosthetic/cosmetic dentistry improved dramatically, starting in the 1700s, when they began to use porcelain for dentures. However, that did not mean there were not some missteps along the way. In the 1800s, the cosmetic dentistry industry turned to placing metals in the sockets of missing teeth, but the body rejected those as much as they rejected the use of human teeth. But not all was lost, as porcelain teeth became very popular and dentists started using molds with plaster to make sure the dentures fit better.

20th Century and Modern Cosmetic Dentistry Techniques

The materials dentists used in dentures changed almost as soon as the 1900s began. Porcelain dental crowns were not as economical as they could be, and as soon as the dental industry was able to, they switched to plastics and acrylics. We still use acrylics for dentures today, in fact!

Cosmetic Dentistry In The Present

The 20th Century is the true moment where cosmetic dentistry began. There was more of a focus on creating beautiful, natural looking teeth than ever before. Teeth whitening became more important as did dental veneers, fillings, and teeth implants.

Teeth Whitening: In the 20th Century, dentists experimented with new techniques of teeth whitening, typically pairing hydrogen peroxide with a bleaching light to whiten teeth. This didn’t work until two dentists, Dr. Haywood and Dr. Heymann, came up with the idea of using carbamide peroxide in 1989. It was to be used as a whitening agent. This made it easier not only to bleach your teeth in the dentist’s office but to make it easier for patients to do this at home.

That was not the only technique used to whiten teeth however, in the 1960s, laser dentistry was invented. However it was primarily used for treatment of gum disease until 1996 when the FDA approved a dental laser that could be used for teeth whitening.

Composite Fillings and Bonding: Over the last century, there have been numerous pushes forward in the field of dental bonding. In the 1950s, Michael Buonocore invented a white tooth filling material. He also described an acid etch technique that increased adhesion between dental fillings and enamel. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that any sort of permanent bonding truly was developed for patients.

Dental Veneers: Dental veneers are pretty recent – they were invented in the 1930s by Charles Pincus as a temporary fix for film stars, who weren’t exactly the typical patient. They would fall off after a short time, only being held together by dental adhesive. It wasn’t until the 1980s that a new technique allowed dentists to bond porcelain dental veneers to teeth. Currently, dental veneers are thin, durable and last from 10 to 15 years if they’re cared for in the proper manner.

Dental Implants: This is another recent accomplishment in the field of cosmetic dentistry. It wasn’t until 1937 that the first screw dental implant was created. It wasn’t until the 1950s that osseointegration was discovered, making easier dental implants a reality, although this was not marketed to the public until the 1980s. Now using implants to replace missing teeth is a common procedure!

Orthodontics, Braces and Clear Aligners: Straight teeth aren’t only visually appealing, they are essential for proper oral health. This technology has culminated in modern and highly effective dental devices like Invisalign.

Enjoy The Latest Advances Of Cosmetic Dentistry With Us

Now that you know the history of cosmetic dentistry, you should also know that we use the most advanced and innovative techniques in order to make your smile even more beautiful. No matter what the problem is, a chipped tooth, a stain, a missing tooth, contact Lakeway Cosmetic Dentistry and arrange a consultation today!

Get started on your healthy, beautiful smile today!