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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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


The branch of dentistry devoted to diseases of the gingiva (gum tissue), alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, and cementum.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The PAOO technique serves as an attractive treatment option for the triad of orthodontist, the periodontist, and the patient.
Sanda Moldovan is an award-winning periodontist and nutritionist who is a frequent guest on the TV show "The Doctors." With a firm belief in health from the inside out, Dr.
Periodontist, Private Practice, Bellville, Cape Town
"As periodontists, our clinical research borrows from our colleagues in orthopedics and plastic surgery to provide our patients the benefits gained by incorporating 21st-century medical technology in everyday clinical practice," says Farris.
and whether anything make it better or worse A periodontist may ask if you smoke and if there's a history of gum disease in the family and orthodontists and cosmetic dentists will need to determine why you're unhappy with the appearance of your teeth; Take a picture with you If you're planning on having expensive cosmetic treatment then take a picture with you.
If that were even remotely true, Osama Al-Salami would have never left his homeland where, in his late 30s, he was a nationally known professor and periodontist. But it isn't true, as the International Committee of the Red Cross stated in a 15-page report issued March 17: "Five years after the outbreak of the war in Iraq, the humanitarian situation in most of the country remains among the most critical in the world."
Cha is a periodontist with extensive experience in restoring implants, especially the full mouth reconstruction cases.
Bite down on a piece of gauze to hold the tooth in place and go immediately to a periodontist's office.
After X-rays and careful measurements and evaluations of gum health and underlying bone structure, an oral surgeon or periodontist implants a titanium screw anchor into the bone.