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dentistry, treatment and care of the teeth and associated oral structures. Dentistry is mainly concerned with tooth decay, disease of the supporting structures, such as the gums, and faulty positioning of the teeth. Like medicine and surgery, it is practiced in specialized fields: oral surgery, orthodontics (corrective dentistry), periodontics (diseases of the gums), prosthodontics (partial or total tooth replacement), endodontics (treatment of dental pulp chamber and canals), and pedodontics (dental problems of children).

Some researchers believe that there is clear evidence of dental drilling in human teeth found in Pakistan that date to 7000 B.C., but unquestioned evidence of dentistry is found only from subsequent millenia. Excellent crowns and bridges were made by the Etruscans in the 7th cent. B.C. At about that time, teeth were being extracted in Asia Minor as a cure for bodily ills and diseases. Skills achieved by the Etruscans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were largely lost during the Middle Ages, when barbers and roving bands of charlatans practiced unskilled dentistry at marketplaces and fairs. Abulcasis, a Spanish Moor, was one of the few in his time who studied dental surgery, leaving behind instruments and theories quite advanced for the 10th cent. A.D.

French scientist Pierre Fauchard is considered the founder of modern dentistry; by the end of the 17th cent., he was making fillings of lead, tin, and gold and devising artificial dentures. In the 18th cent., German scientist Philip Pfaff was making dentures of plaster of Paris, and shortly thereafter the French discovered how to mold porcelain into dentures. The first American to make use of this process was Charles Willson Peale; he who made the now-famous set of false teeth for George Washington.

As dentistry progressed, the center of accomplishment shifted from Europe to the United States. The first dental school in the world was established in Baltimore in 1840. The development of local and general anesthesia, the invention of the drilling machine, discovery of better substances for filling teeth (amalgam and gold), and, most importantly, the ability to devise replacements closely approximating natural teeth in function and appearance contributed much to the rapid growth of dentistry as a science and an art. Adding fluoride to the local water supply (fluoridation) has made teeth more resistant to cavities; annual applications of fluoride and clear liquid plastic to children's teeth also make them more decay resistant.

New developments include the implantation of artificial teeth or binding posts into the gums or jawbone; antibiotic fiber for periodontal disease; root canal surgery, a procedure that ameliorates pain while permitting teeth to remain in place; and nearly painless lasers to repair dental cavities, usually making local anesthesia unnecessary. In the early 1990s, it was reported that five patients of a Florida dentist with AIDS became infected with HIV; as a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ruled that full protective garb (gloves, mask, glasses or goggles, coat) be worn by dental personnel to protect patients and themselves.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the medical discipline that studies the structure of the teeth and the causation, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the teeth, tongue, oral mucosa, jaws, and the surrounding tissue of the face and neck; dentistry also develops new materials used for dental fillings and prostheses.

Diseases of the organs of the oral cavity were first described by the ancient physicians Susruta in India, Hippocrates in Greece, and Galen and Celsus in Rome. In the 14th century the French physician G. de Chauliac developed a device for the extraction of teeth, and at the end of the 15th century the Italian physician G. Arcoli filled teeth with foil made from gold, lead, and tin. In the 16th century, A. Paré described in detail the extraction of teeth and operations for tooth reimplantation.

At the turn of the 18th century dentistry was established as an independent branch of medical practice. The founder of dentistry as a scientific discipline is considered to be the French surgeon P. Fauchard, who in 1728 published Le Chirurgien dentiste, in which he reviewed the entire development of dentistry. The filling of teeth and making of dental prostheses were improved in the 19th century. In 1820 the French physician C. F. Delabarre used special drills for treating cavities. In the late 19th century the American dentist N. Morrison invented the foot-driven drill. At the turn of the 20th century the etiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of major dental diseases were studied in light of advances made in physiology, biochemistry, pathology, and other scientific disciplines.

The first information on dentistry in Russia dates back to the early 18th century. The profession of dentist and examination requirements for dentists were established by law in 1810. In 1829 women were given the right to practice dentistry. The first school of dentistry was opened in St. Petersburg in 1881. Before 1917 there were approximately 20 dental schools in Russia; dentists were trained in private institutions and, as dentists, had private practices. The First Society of Dentists in Russia and the Society of Dentists and Physicians Practicing Dentistry were founded in St. Petersburg in 1883. Similar societies were subsequently organized in Moscow (1891), Kiev, Kharkov, and Tbilisi. In 1882, la. V. Dzhems-Levi published the first special textbook on dentistry, which was entitled Guide to Dentistry. In the 20th century, M. M. Chemodanov and A. K. Limberg made important contributions to the development of dentistry.

After the October Revolution of 1917 a dental subsection was included in the People’s Commissariat for Public Health of the RSFSR; at the time the subsection was headed by P. G. Dauge. Dental subdepartments were organized as parts of medical departments, and advanced-training courses were introduced. The State Institute of Dentistry was established in Moscow in 1921, and a similar institute was organized in Leningrad in 1927. By 1975 the USSR had two institutes of dentistry and 33 dental departments at medical institutes. By 1975, in addition to dental technicians with special technical education, there were approximately 100,000 dentists with a university-level or secondary-level medical education (as opposed to 20,400 in 1940). Greatly contributing to the treatment and prevention of dental diseases are the routine checkups provided children, pregnant women, workers with occupationally hazardous jobs, and other population groups.

Since 1976 the training of dentists with a secondary-level medical education has been discontinued in the USSR, with a corresponding increase in the number of dentists with a university-level medical education. Important contributions to the development of dentistry have been made by A. A. Limberg, A. I. Evdokimov, I. G. Lukomskii, I. A. Begel’man, V. Iu. Kurliand-skii, and V. F. Rud’ko. In 1968 the All-Union Society of Dentists (founded 1956) became a member of the International Stomatological Association (founded 1907). The major scientific institution in dentistry in the USSR is the Central Scientific Research Institute of Dentistry, which was founded in Moscow in 1962.

Dental care is provided on the same basis in other socialist countries. In most capitalist countries dentists primarily have private practices. Research in dentistry has been conducted by G. Staegemann (German Democratic Republic), F. Urban (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic), I. Ericsson (Sweden), and G. Hartwin (USA).

There are four major branches of modern dentistry: preventive dentistry, oral surgery, orthodontics, and pedodontics. Preventive dentistry involves the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases of the teeth (cavities, pulpitis, periodontitis), periodontosis, and diseases of the oral mucosa. Oral surgery deals with the extraction of teeth and with maxillofacial operations, which are performed in order to treat inflammatory processes, congenital and acquired defects of the face and jaws, and benign and malignant tumors. Orthodontics studies and eliminates anomalies, deformations, and defects of the jaws and teeth. Pedodontics, a branch of dentistry that has developed in the 20th century, is concerned with the treatment of diseases of the teeth and mouth in children, taking into account the special characteristics of each period of child development. Drugs, physical-therapeutic procedures, ultrasound, high-speed drills, and special high-frequency devices are used in the modern treatment of diseases of the oral cavity.

The latest developments and advances in dentistry in the USSR are discussed in the journal Stomatologiia (Dentistry; Moscow, since 1937). The journal was published under the title Sovetskaia stomatologiia (Soviet Dentistry) from 1931 to 1936, Odontologiia i stomatologiia (Odontology and Dentistry) from 1927 to 1930, and Zhurnal odontologii i stomatologii (Journal of Odontology and Dentistry) from 1923 to 1926. Outside the USSR, journals dealing with dentistry include Caries Research (Basel, since 1967), Journal of Dental Research (Chicago, since 1919), and Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine and Oral Pathology (St. Louis, since 1948).


Dauge, P. G. Sotsial’nye osnovy sovetskoi stomatologii. Moscow, 1933.
Evdokimov, A. I. “Nastoiashchee i proshloe sovetskoi stomatologii: 1917–1967.” Stomatologiia, 1967, no. 5.
Safonov, A. G. “Itogi i perspektivy razvitiia stomatologicheskoi pomoshchi v SSSR.” Stomatologiia, 1967, no. 5.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A branch of medical science concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the teeth and adjacent tissues and the restoration of missing dental structures.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


the branch of medical science concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the teeth and gums
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Bell and I demonstrated four-handed dentistry during a composite restoration.
They do not understand or implement the concept of four-handed dentistry nor do they utilize their assistant fully.