Most people think that modern dentistry began relatively recently, but in fact, the roots of dental history extend much further back than the deep roots found in a set of molars. Indeed, most historians and archaeologists agree that dentistry and remedies for toothaches can be traced back to societies that flourished more than 9,000 years ago!

In this article, we’ll take a brief, bite-sized look at the history of dentistry. You’re sure to learn something you didn’t already know, but if you’re intrigued and want to gain more wisdom about the advantages of modern dentistry, give Federal Hill Smiles a call today!

Ancient Times

The earliest known artifacts of dentistry were discovered in the Indus Valley Civilization around 7000 BCE. These artifacts included bow drills, used to cure apparent tooth disorders, which were crafted by skilled artisans of beadwork—not medical practitioners.

The next pivotal moment in dental history didn’t occur for quite some time, or at least, not in any great recorded detail, until the rise of the Ancient Egyptian Empire. Around 2600 BCE, a scribe named Hesy-Re (also spelled “Hesi-Re”) became known as the first professional practitioner of dentistry. He was a bureaucratic official who served under the pharaoh Djoser, and in addition to being a royal scribe, he was also referred to as “Doctor of the Tooth.” He is widely believed to be one of the first noteworthy people to correctly identify the signs of gum disease.

Before we get into our discussion of the new millennium, it’s necessary to address the influence of dentistry in Ancient Greece. Circa 500 to 300 BCE, ancient Greek scholars like Aristotle and Hippocrates — from whom we get the modern “Hippocratic Oath” of doctors — often wrote about dental practices and procedures, as well as homeopathic toothache remedies.

Medieval Dentistry

With the advent of the printing press in the mid 1400s, created and popularized by Johannes Gutenberg, Western Europe saw for the first time the rise of mass-printed books and pamphlets. As early as 1530 CE, the creation of the first book all about dentistry was being disseminated. This publication was called The Little Medicinal Book For All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth.

Enlightenment and Enamel

The next major publication to address dentistry was proffered by a French physician named Pierre Fauchard in 1723. This book was a medical manual for tooth care and medically based dental treatment. This is influential in and of itself, but Fauchard is additionally renowned for identifying that sugar consumption causes tooth decay. Perhaps, given this knowledge, they should not have “let them eat cake.”

The Victorian Era

In 1840, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery opened as the first specialized academic institution of its kind. By 1873, Colgate had become the first company to mass-produce toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Modern Dentistry Emerges

When x-ray technology was first discovered by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895, it only took a year before the radiation innovation was applied to dental practices.

Since that time, major advances in dentistry have been occurring as commonly as cavities around Halloween-time. From advanced whitening treatments to the precise design of ultra-realistic implants, there’s never been a better or more convenient time to take great care of your teeth.


In this article, we’ve reviewed a bite-sized look at the history of dentistry. For more information about anything discussed here, or simply to schedule that check-up you’ve been postponing, please reach out to Federal Hill Smiles today!