Did you know that the first dental implants were used as early as 2000 BC?
In 2018, we can walk into the office of an experienced implant dentist and have digital x-rays taken and implants placed in a safe environment, but this is a relatively new advancement. For thousands of years, humans had to find primitive solutions for dental problems like missing teeth, malocclusion, and inability to sleep. Discover the history of how we treated these ailments, and compare it to the modern methods that are widely available today.
Old Problems, New Solutions
It may seem remarkable that, in most American cities, you can walk into a dental office and have access to experienced dentists and advanced equipment. But the reason for the advanced dentistry we have available today is that these treatments have been evolving for hundreds or thousands of years. You may be surprised to find that many of the treatments we use today have their roots in ancient solutions that our ancestors used so many years ago.
What Factors Were Lacking In Ancient Times?
When exploring the difference between the treatments of the past and procedures commonly used today, it helps to understand the difference in lifestyle between our current society and our ancestors. These are some of the key reasons why elaborate and comfortable dental procedures have only been developed within the past hundred years or so:
- Advanced technology didn’t exist in the days of our ancestors.
- The knowledge of concepts like germs and osseointegration didn’t exist.
- Pain relieving methods and sedation treatments weren’t as effective.
- Crucial equipment, such as x-rays, wasn’t yet invented.
How Did Pickwickian Syndrome Become Known as Sleep Apnea?
As a fairly new disorder, the discovery of sleep apnea actually owes some credit to legendary novelist, Charles Dickens. In his novel, The Pickwick Papers, a character known as the fat boy had the exact traits of a sleep apnea sufferer. This led to the disorder being dubbed Pickwickian Syndrome by William Osler, an early 20th century physician. Even then, over 100 years ago, it was known that the disorder had the potential to cause heart failure.
The First Effective Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Invented in Sydney, Australia in 1981, the continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) gave new hope to those with sleep apnea. Although noisy, the CPAP forced air into sufferer’s mouths, ultimately allowing them to breathe and sleep throughout the night. CPAPs are still used today, but sleep specialists like Dr. Chiarina Iregui from Gig Harbor, WA prefer to use the much more comfortable oral appliances to treat this debilitating disorder.
What Treatments Were Used to Correct Crooked Teeth?
While teeth that don’t line up properly is largely a cosmetic issue, severe malocclusion can result in pain and difficulty while eating and speaking, and the problem is as old as civilization itself. Mummies have actually been found with bands on their teeth, proving that even in ancient times, people tried new and innovative methods of straightening their smiles. Many cultures devised their own forms of braces for their teeth, and many were made from animal parts.
Many Modern Options for Straightening the Teeth
Today, people with malocclusion issues have multiple options at their disposal. While metal braces are the strongest treatment, Invisalign gives patients the ability to straighten their teeth in a discreet, comfortable way. To take advantage of this revolutionary dental treatment, one visit to an experienced provider like Dr. Mark Katz in North Carolina can make a significant difference in your overall well-being.
How Did Our Ancestors Deal with Tooth Loss?
With far less technology and knowledge of how to keep your teeth in top form, it can only be assumed that our ancestors lost teeth on a far more frequent basis than we do today. The earliest evidence of their attempts to fill these gaps was found in China where people would use bamboo pegs to form functioning teeth over 4000 years ago. Other cultures have used everything from copper pegs to animal parts to serve as replacements for missing teeth.
From Primitive to the Gold Standard for Replacing Teeth
Dental implants have come a long way. With the advent of osseointegration and discovery of titanium, we can now get dental implants that look, function, and feel just like a set of natural teeth. About 10% of dentists are qualified to lead dental implant surgery. If you’re curious about this remarkable surgery, simply contact an implant specialist, such as Dr. Christopher Henninger of San Diego, and schedule a consultation to find out if they’re right for you.
Understanding History Makes Us Knowledgeable Today
To study history is to see how our predecessors lived in far more difficult times. Everywhere we look in our modern lives, we can see remnants of the ways our ancestors used to live and solve the problems of their day, and dental treatments are no different. The same way that our knowledge in 2018 is far more advanced than it was hundreds of years ago, it can be expected that our methods will continue to evolve, long into the future.