History of Dental Tools: From the Stone Age to Modern Times

Much like the procedures themselves, dental tools have seen fantastic advancements over the years. As technology and ingenuity advance, so does the simplicity and effectiveness Painless Dentist of these tools. Let’s take a brief trip into the past, to take a look at a few of these ancient devices as well as what they’ve transformed into, in modern dentistry today.
Imagine yourself 9,000 years ago, with a toothache. With no modern technology or medicine, how would you remedy the situation? Well for some in that time, a “bow drill” would be used to drill into the tooth, removing the decayed material. This bow resembles one that a cub-scout might use to spark a fire in the woods, but instead of creating friction, it is drilling. Consequently, this was also around the time that the dental assistant became a necessary addition to the office. Often these assistants would be asked to hold down the arms and legs of patients, as the drilling process was excruciatingly painful.
Potentially even more painful, extractions are also a necessary evil of the dental world. Today we have pain-killing pharmaceuticals that will make the experience Should I Be A Dentist Quiz a little more bearable. We also have uniquely designed tools that expedite the process making it safer as well. This, however, hasn’t always been the case.
Up until the 16th century, the job of a dentist wasn’t preformed by a dedicated dental professional, but instead by a barber. The tools that he/she would use more resembled ancient torture devices than dental tools. One in particular, The Pelican, resembled a pelican’s beak and was used to rip a tooth out of a patient’s mouth as quickly as possible. Not very painless, but effective nonetheless.
Other, now primitive, tools that were used in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, included various scrapers, gougers, openers, and vices devised to isolate a problem and eliminate the cause of pain.
It wasn’t until nearly 1800 that John Greenwood, George Washington’s famous dentist, devised a foot-powered spinning wheel to aid in many of his procedures. Historians say that he got the idea after watching his mother sew using another variation of the foot engine. Eventually, this gave way to the electric dental engine – which, of course, has seen numerous variations of its own over the years.
Today, we take for granted the amazing job that dentists do every day. No, it isn’t pain-free and instant yet – but that may be the case in the not too distant future. For now, let’s appreciate the fact that we’re better off than we were even 20 years ago and certainly better off than the poor folks of the 16th and 17th centuries.

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