Dentistry oh how you've changed! Part 2

In part one of my trip through time I ventured through the ages; from Babylonia to France, and Italy to the United States. I met a lot of incredibly important people along the way all of whom have made extraordinary impacts on the modern world of dentistry. I'm continuing my travels today; leaving Washington DC behind and headed into the future.

I ended the last installment with the promise of an answer: "Did George Washington really wear wooden dentures?" and the answer is (drum-roll please) No he did not! This is a myth so widely believed that it was actually taught in schools across America for decades! Even the National Museum of American Dentistry would tell its visitors the tale. Over the years the President wore dentures made of ivory, bone and lead; defiantly no wood! Can you imagine the splinters??? Now that we have settled that; Onwards!

The 1800s are a time where dental changes are happening quickly, I didn't get to spend much time with anyone so brace yourself for a quick meet and greet. The age of technology is upon us and people from all over the world are introducing new products aimed at the masses. It looks like our modern day dental surgeries are not far away.
The year is 1825 and Mr Samuel Stockton begins the commercial manufacture of porcelain teeth. His S.S. White Dental Manufacturing Company establishes and dominates the dental supply market throughout the 19th century!
Next 1832 James Snell invents the first reclining dental chair (Dentists, Hygienists and Nurses everywhere celebrate for the sake of their poor aching backs!)
1833 It's the turn of the Brits! Edward Crawcour and his nephew Moses Crawcour (known incorrectly as the Crawcour brothers) took Amalgam to the United States and by 1844 it was reported that 50% of all fillings placed in upstate New York consisted of the silver material. The material wasn't warmly welcomed by all. At the time the only US dental association (the American Society of Dental Surgeons) forced all of its members to sign a pledge to abstain from using the mercury fillings. This was the beginning of what is known as the first dental amalgam war!
1839 is the time for one man who was never received the recognition he deserves in dentistry and many many other industries; Mr Charles Goodyear. You may recognize the name from the tyres beneath your car or van. Charles was the inventor of the vulcanization process that hardens rubber. The result of this process is an inexpensive material called Vulcanite, it is easily molded to the mouth and makes an excellent base for false teeth. In 1864 the molding process for Vulcanite dentures was patented but for the next 25 years dentists fought the licensing fees to allow all to use it.
You may spot a pattern along this time line, many of the newer processes and inventions are coming from across the pond in the United States. It seems that America had all the resources needed to create modern and innovative practices that would last through history.
1840 and America has continued its rein in the dental world. I celebrated alongside two very influential gentlemen Horace Hayden and Chaplin Harris as they found the worlds first dental school, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery and establish the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. (The university merges with another in Maryland in 1923). The same year of the opening of the Baltimore College the American Society of Dental Surgeons was founded, unfortunately the organization dissolved in 1856.

Moving on through this American road trip and I'm headed to Alabama and 1841 to discover that the state has enacted the fist dental practice act which regulates dentistry within the United States. This was the first time that dentists had to register with a governing body before practicing their craft. 

1846 (yay for 1846!!!) Dentist William Morton (Yay for William Morton!!) conducts the first successful public demonstration of the use of ether anesthesia for surgery!!! This is the gentleman who put things in motion for todays local anesthetic. (YAY for anesthesia!!! YAY for no more pain!!!)1855 and the bling is introduced to dentistry! Robert Arther creates the cohesive gold foil method which allows dentists to use gold as a means to fill a cavity. The method of prepping the gold may be different these days but it is still used in practices across the globe.

1864 Root canal patients this is one for you; This is the year that Sanford C. Barnum developed the rubber dam aka the sheet of rubber we place over you mouth during an RCT appointment. Apart from originating the question "What the heck is that??" the rubber dam does an amazing job at ensuring no bugs or saliva get into that freshly cleaned tooth of yours! 

1871 and another invention comes along that will drastically improve the work of dentists! Mr James B. Morrison patents the first commercially manufactured foot-treadle dental engine. This new drill engine was affordable enough for the vast majority of dentists to be able to have one within their practices. The mechanics supplied the dental burs with enough speed to cut enamel and dentin smoothly and quickly, revolutionizing the practice of dentistry. Unfortunately Mr Morrison wouldn't be celebrating alone, the very same year a Mr George F. Green receives a patent for the first electric dental engine. No peddling involved! Good for all of us but maybe a little bit of rain on Morrisons parade.

1880 This my friends is a year that has been a blessing to us all! Well, to all of us who brush our teeth! For this is the year that the collapsible metal tube was created! Oh yeah! None of you have any clue what a collapsible metal tube does in your day to day brushing habits do you? It's not so much the tube as what's inside it (do you get where I'm going now?) YES Toothpaste in tubes!!! A REVOLUTION (Bring in the singing French people again!) Before the toothpaste tube was invented and marketed Dentifrice as it was known, was only available in liquid or powder form and usually made by individual dentists who sold it in bottles, porcelain pots or paper boxes. But now toothpaste can be mass-produced in factories and sold everywhere. And believe it or not within 20 years this will be the norm.

So even though we now have tubed toothpaste available practically everywhere it still takes 10 years for Willoughby Miller an American dentist working in Germany to in 1890 describe in his new book "Micro-organisms of the Human Mouth" that bacteria are the cause of dental decay. This is what generates a huge interest in oral hygiene and this ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls is the beginning of the world-wide movement to promote regular tooth brushing and flossing! 

One part of my job as a dental nurse that I love is looking at x-rays. I can't tell you why, I just love them. Maybe it's because it is a way of looking through things that you can't with the naked eye or because I was pants at those Magic Eye pictures as a kid and this is like the cheat page at the back of the book! either way it's 1895 and Dr Wilhelm Roentgen discovers the X-ray! And no more than a year later the first dental X-ray was taken by New Orleans dentist C. Edmund Kells. The first X-rays weren't a quick beep and you're done, they were a long drawn out process that left the early scientist who discovered them very ill and in some cases deformed! These days the radiation given off by 2 routine dental X-rays is the equivalent to that you would be exposed to on a flight from London to Spain! I know I'd still prefer a Spanish holiday but it does put minds at rest that we are not at risk.

1899 The year that fixed the crooked smile, Edward Hartley Angle classes the differences in individual bites. Your bite is the way your teeth fit together when your jaw is closed. Edward went on to explain how we can fix the incorrect bites that some people have by introducing orthodontics (braces).

Phew the 1800s were manic, but we can really see the leaps and bounds that dentistry has taken I am now in an age where pain is controlled, tools and equipment is motorized and treatments such as orthodontics are becoming more available. I am eager to see what the 20th century has in store for us as so far I am very impressed. If you have any questions about anything dental why not give us a call? Even if we don't know the answer I'm sure we can find it for you. 01280 822 567

Dentistry oh how you've changed! Part 1

Many of our patients tell us how much dentistry has changed since they were children and that got me thinking, how much has dentistry changed? And where did it all start? I took a quick trip through time and here is what I found:


My first stop was 5000BC and Ancient Babylonia; it was here that a Sumerian text described "Tooth worms" as the cause of dental decay. This could possibly be the first signs of basic medical knowledge into dentistry. 

Forwards to 2600BC and the death of Hesy-Ra, the royal physician of Pharaoh Djoser. He is quite possibly the first known physician in history and often called the first dentist too. When Hesy-Ra was buried an inscription was placed within his tomb that read "The greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians", along with attending to the needs of the Pharaoh he also was leading the medical team who aided the workers who were building the pyramids.

2000 years on and I ended up in 500-300BC where Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry; they noted the dates and ages of patients teething patterns, treating decayed teeth and gum disease. They also were the first to suggest removing teeth with forceps and using wires to fix loose teeth and fractured jaws!

Moving on, one very famous Chirstmas and 466 years later in 166-201AD the Etruscans (native to Italy) begin to experiment with gold crowns and fixed bridges.

The year 700 and the Chinese write texts mentioning "silver paste" this is quite possibly the first use of an amalgam like material, welcoming millions of people to the world of ugly fillings! 

Now when I got to France in 1210 things took a strange turn. a Guild of Barbers was established and sooner or later two groups evolved (bear with me, we are still talking about teeth here not hair and beards!) group one was a collection of educated surgeons who were trained to perform complex surgical operations, the members of group 2 were known as Lay Barbers or Barber-surgeons. These were the men who would perform more routine hygienic services such as shaving, bleeding and tooth extraction! But don't fret, if you need a quick trim when next in France it's okay! In 1400 a series of royal decrees prohibited Lay Barbers from practicing all surgical procedures except for bleeding, cupping, leeching and extracting teeth! Pheew! 

I hung around in France for a few hundred years; I quite liked it, bread, cheese, wine, lovely! 1723 was a year to commemorate, Pierre Fauchard; a local surgeon publishes The Surgeon Dentist: A Treatise on Teeth (Le Chirurgien Dentiste) A REVOLUTION! Suddenly the songs from Les Mis spring to mind! This book was the first to comprehensively describe a system for the practice of dentistry; it included everything modern day dentists still need to know.

A quick hop across the channel and to 1760. This is where I met John Baker, he was the earliest medically trained dentist to practice in America and this is the year he set sail from good old England to do just that. In the same year Isaac Greenwood practices as the first native-born American dentist. 

1768, if you are a fan of CSI this is a year to take note of! Paul Revere places advertisements in a Boston newspaper offering his services as a dentist and in 1776 helps solve the first case of post-mortem dental forensics! Gil Grisom eat your heart out! (If you don't watch CSI then that had no relevance what so ever... sorry) This was done by Revere verifying the death of his good friend, acting General Dr. Joseph Warren in the Battle of Breeds Hill. He did this by identifying the bridge he had constructed for Warren before the Revolutionary war.

I took a horse and carriage from Boston to Washington where I met John Greenwood; his name rang a bell and that when I realised I had spoken to his father Isaac Greenwood 30 years earlier. Now in 1790 John was also working as a dentist just like dear old dad. More specifically he was dentist to George Washington! He goes on to later this year construct the first known Dental Foot Engine by adapting his mothers' foot treadle spinning wheel to create a drill! The same year Josiah Flagg, a prominent American dentist creates the first chair made specifically for dental patients. To a wooden Winsor char Mr Flagg attaches an adjustable headrest and an arm extension to hold instruments. Thus the beginnings of the modern day dental surgery were born! 

I have reached a point in history where marvellous things are happening, I can see the dentistry I know and love evolving in front of me and it is so exciting. I'll end part one where we are, and look into the tale of President Washingtons' "wooden" teeth. I'll let you know what I find in part 2 but if you can't wait for the next installment why not give thegallery a call? We will do our best to answer that and any other questions you have on dentistry: 01280 822567





Lost a Tooth? We Can Help You Get Back Your Bite!

Did you know that the average adult is missing 2 or more teeth? This doesn't include wisdom teeth (they're annoying little fellows who most of the time we're much better off without) and yes I can tell you're counting how many you're missing! Losing teeth can be the beginning of a lot of aggravation and in some cases a lot of money spent with no real outcome. There are multiple ways of replacing lost teeth, each suit people in different ways:

1. Dentures, these trusty devils have filled the mouths of the toothless for centuries! In the past they have been made from bone, porcelain, metal, wood and even real teeth taken from dead bodies or from the mouths of people desperate for a little cash! These days they tend to be made of two materials (thank goodness!) acrylic and chrome. If a person is only missing one or two teeth a denture can be quite difficult to get along with, they tend to be unstable and to be honest we regularly see patients who are unhappy with their pocket sized plate. Don't get me wrong, there are many people who have dentures and are more than happy with them. These patients usually are missing several if not all of their teeth and in cases like this the mouth creates a good suction which holds the false teeth in place.


2. Dental Bridges, there was a time when the next best thing to a real tooth was a bridge and there have been cases of this treatment found dating back to ancient Egypt and earlier! Back then the bridge often made from the teeth that had been lost and held in place with gold wires. Those with a more noble or socially higher status were also known to have jewels such as emeralds and rubies placed into the teeth. The concept of a bridge is to build a structure that can be supported by the remaining teeth to close or disguise a gap. As with anything there are pros and cons to this type of treatment; pros being: you don't have to remove the bridge after every meal and rinse away food, they are a fixed appliance so there is no worry of them dropping out midsentence and they look just like real teeth. In some cases the cons do out weigh the pros: two or more potentially healthy teeth have to be largely filed down to house the bridge, oral hygiene has to be top notch; If not there is a chance of losing the bridge and the teeth it is attached to and this type of treatment has an unpredictable life span. If you already have a bridge there is nothing to worry about, keep up with cleaning and flossing the teeth and an even better thing to do would be to visit a hygienist on a regular basis. 


3. Implants, this treatment is becoming more and more popular as people everywhere no longer want the discomfort or unfortunate stigma that surrounds dentures or the risk that is linked to bridges. Believe it or not dental implants have been around since the 1960s and were first successfully placed within a patient's jaw soon after. So, what is an implant and how do they work? An Implant consists of several parts, the two main elements are the titanium post which will be placed into the socket left by the missing tooth/teeth and the beautiful crown/bridge or denture that will sit on top.

Of course just like any other treatment, Implants do have pros and cons. But in this instance the pros grossly outweigh the cons! If you are a suitable patient implants could last you the rest of your life, there is no need to worry about surrounding teeth being damaged via the treatment, if future teeth are lost the implant crown/ bridge can be adapted to help fill those gaps, the final crown or bridge are fixed appliances so no worry about them falling out, implant retained dentures are beyond a doubt the most stable plate you will come across and all implants placed at thegallery come with a life time guarantee! 

The cons, some may say the price. As a surgical procedure implant treatments do cost a little more than your average trip to the dentists, some patients may need some additional treatment such as bone grafting or a sinus lift. These are things that will be discovered and fully discussed during your free consultation with us, multiple visits to us. You will need to visit us quite often for the 3-6 months that the treatment will take to complete.

As you can see the cons really are against the physical treatment not the outcome, yes it's lengthy and yes it may be a little more costly but implants are truly life changing. We are extremely proud as a team to help people take back their confidence and their bite though dental implants. We work alongside our patients from day one to ensure that the whole process is as smooth as possible. We would love to be the ones to help you! Our consultations are completely free with no obligation to go forward if you feel it's not for you. So if you're missing 1, 2 or all 32 of your teeth give us a call and take that first step to a new you.


Children and brushing; developing the habit of a lifetime

This may sound silly but I'm quite often asked the question "Why should we brush our children's milk teeth if they're going to fall out anyway?" This used to really surprise me, "How can they not know about brushing children's teeth?!" But then I thought, well it really is a good question. If you are not in the know about oral health then yes brushing a tooth that will one day fall out does seem like a waste of time. But tooth brushing is key! As adults we know this (as adults paying dental bills we really know this) and children will always need that helping hand when it comes to developing oral hygiene routines of their own. So lets go through a few things and I'll explain a little about each age group's development as we're there.

6 months old is usually the age when the first baby teeth will start to break through the gums. Teething can come with some unpleasant symptoms; red rosy cheeks, terrible nappies and sometimes quite high fevers. The gums may also be a little tender at this time so don't be surprised if you can get nowhere near them (let alone clean them!) even with all that to contend with, this is a critical age when it comes to brushing. Many parents will know the screaming hab-dabs that can happen when it comes to cleaning those pearly whites but to begin with all we are aiming to do is get the child used to having the toothbrush and paste in their mouths. Managing this is a task all on its own so don't be worried if you don't get into every nook and cranny! There are a million and one products on the market when it comes to oral health, for children of this age you don't need anything fancy; a simple brush (have a look here for some ideas) and an age appropriate toothpaste is all you need! 


Take a look at the above chart, It explains which baby teeth will erupt and when.


Fingers crossed by the time the majority of the baby teeth have popped up brushing may be a little easier, again no need for an amazing super-dooper brush, if you the parent are still brushing for your little one then a standard child sized manual brush is enough. A good way to tell if your child is ready to brush by themselves is through their handwriting. If your child can write cursive/ joined up then they now have the motor skills that are needed for brushing their teeth! Having the skills is one thing, using them is another. Mums and dads keep an eye just in case, we all know how kids will find something more exciting to do very quickly. 

The First adult teeth will start to appear around the age of 6 years old. I can already hear you saying "but we haven't lost any baby teeth yet!" this is because these wonderful new adult teeth pop up directly behind the last baby ones, at the very back of the mouth. These are the child's first molars (number 6s when you come to the dentist!) and fingers crossed these will be there for the rest of the child's life! The 6s are some of the most important teeth, they are chewing teeth and that means that they need care and attention too. Once spotted make sure these molars get a good clean, it just means reaching a little further back with the brush.


As the remaining baby teeth are replaced by new adult ones different obstacles will cross your path when it comes to your children brushing! We've had the screaming hab-dabs with the babies; from there we get the over excited 3 year olds who really want to do anything else. This is something parents tell me all the time, right up to the age of 10 or 11! Their child is just too busy to brush. But there are ways of keeping your family interested in brushing. I am a huge fan of the Aquafresh website (take a look) it has resources for parents and children to keep brushing fun! There is an age range where no amount of fun will help, the dreaded teenage years! After working within dental practices for the last 10 years I can tell you right now teenagers are the worst when it comes to brushing! I have no reason for it, no logic, nothing. Many are fantastic and really take care of their oral hygiene, seeing as this is usually the age range where braces and other orthodontic treatment is carried out that is great. But there are many who there is no getting through to. Mums and Dads you all know what I'm talking about if you currently have teenage children! All I can suggest is routine trips to the dentist (where we can nag them for you) and all the tools needed to maintain a healthy mouth. If things like floss, paste and brushes are around they might be used. 

When it comes to visiting the dentist try and keep it as regular as possible. Every 6 months is a must for all children under the age of 18, after that the dentist may congratulate them on their fantastic oral hygiene by changing their recalls to once ever year! Younger children really need this 6 month routine, not only for the oral care but so they are familiar with the dental environment. The "Magic chair" can be both an exciting and a terrifying experiance for some. We usually say to try and introduce your children to the dentist before their first birthday, this way they can sit with their parents and feel calm knowing you are there.

At thegallery we happily accept families of all ages and if you are registered with us and have children of your own, we wont charge for under 5's examinations! Come and get to know us, we don't bite! 



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