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Tooth worms, barber dentists, and filling wars. Oh my! Here are a few fun facts about the history of dentistry.

Try Brushing Away A Tooth Worm

Ancient Sumerian texts from around 5000 B.C. mention a worm that lived in your mouth and decays teeth. This tooth worm was an archaic belief, but one that would last until the 1700’s A.D.

 A Not-So-Humble Dentist

Hesy-Re was a scribe who lived in ancient Egypt and has been credited for being the first known dentist. An inscription on his tomb makes this loud and clear by declaring that he was “the greatest of those who deal with teeth.”

Shave And A Pulled Tooth, Two Bits

In the middle ages, barbers didn’t just cut your hair; they cleaned teeth, performed bleedings, and extracted teeth as well. France established their first Guild of Barbers in 1210, and soon more of these guilds sprung up all over Europe.

Have A Toothache? Just Kiss A Donkey

The barbers of medieval Europe usually solved problems with decay by pulling teeth. However, folk traditions still remained rampant in this time period and were often sought out as the best solution. For example, a barber in Germany might tell you to kiss a donkey in order to cure a toothache!

Paul Revere’s Dental Practice

We know of Paul Revere as the American revolutionary famous for his midnight ride, but did you know that this silversmith practiced dentistry as well? Between 1768 and 1770, Paul Revere put advertisements in a Boston newspaper offering his services as a dentist.

Wars Over Dental Fillings

Two Frenchmen, the Crawcour brothers, introduced amalgam filling to American dentists in 1833. They called the amalgam Royal Mineral Succedaneum, and it seemed like a good thing until dentists discovered that the brothers were actually quacks. Amalgam was put under suspicion for several years, raising a lot of controversy which has been called the “amalgam wars.”