History of Dental Instruments

As far back as 5,000 B.C., according to an ancient Sumerian text that claimed tooth decay was the result of "tooth worms," dentists have been wielding their implements of torture among the populace. Here are some things you may not know about the implements most commonly used by dentists practicing their craft.

  1. History

    • The first dental drill was a foot driven instrument invented by John Greenwood in 1790. Far from the high tech dental drills of today, the first dental drill John Greenwood made was really just a modified version of his mother's foot treadle spinning wheel. While, a bit unwieldy, it did the trick. In 1957, a dentist named John Borden invented the high speed contra angle hand piece with 30,000 rotations per minute, a monumental step forward in dental drilling and polishing.

    History

    • In 1790, a prominent American dentist named Josiah Flagg invented the first dentist chair, complete with headrest and tray for keeping track of implements. In 1832, inventor James Snell improved on Greenwood's invention by making the chair recline, making it easier for a dentist to see in his victim's (or patient's) mouth. In 1877, the chair once again made dental headlines when the Wilkerson chair replaced the Snell chair as the predominant chair type used by dentists.

    History

    • In 1864, Sanford C. Barnum invented the rubber dental dam. It's purpose is to isolate an individual tooth so the dentist can work with a limited amount of saliva present to slow his work. Cutting off the area of concern from the rest of the mouth makes it easier to work.

    History

    • In 1895, Wilhelm Roentgen, a German physicist, invented the x-ray machine most often used by dentists. A year later, in 1896 a well known New Orleans dentist, C. Edmond Kells, took the first dental x-ray of a living person in the U.S. The ability to see what was happening under the surface improved the precision that dentists could use when isolating dental problems.

    History

    • There were a number of types of toothbrushes before the nylon brush came along, but since it did in 1938, the nylon toothbrush has been the standard toothbrush used by dentists and people alike. In 1960, the first electric model toothbrush was introduced to the buying public.

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