History of Cosmetic DentistryWhile the specific niche called cosmetic dentistry didn’t get officially recognized and named until the 1990s, the concept of using available materials and technology to better the look of one’s smile has been around for thousands of years. The earliest form of dentistry started with the beginning of dentistry around 3000 B.C. with ancient peoples using sticks to clean their teeth. The earliest cosmetic dental procedures were primarily for restorative purposes as the ability to use one’s teeth to eat were crucial in survival. These early dental tactics were crude and minimally effective by today’s standards. In addition, they were likely also uncomfortable.

Ancient Times

The Etruscans are credited with being the first civilizations to make dentures, crowns and bridges. These first dentures were made of either the bones or teeth from dead animals or people, or made of ivory. The crowns and bridges were made of gold. The practice of using teeth from animals and living and dead persons continued through the 1800s.

The Ancient Egyptians made their own cosmetic dental restorations by hammering seashells into their gums to replace lost teeth.

Teeth whitening started with the use of toothpaste. The Ancient Egyptians and Romans used pumice stones, vinegar and urine as toothpaste to whiten their teeth.

The Middle Ages

In the early 1100s, barbers performed dental cleanings, dental restoration procedures and dental surgery in addition to cutting hair and trimming beards. These barber dentists continued through the early 1400s when they were no longer allowed to conduct oral surgery. They did, however, continue the service of filing and polishing teeth, using a type of acid, which ultimately destroyed the tooth enamel.

The switch from strictly restoring teeth to enhancing the look and feel of cosmetic dental appliances began in the 1400s. The 1400s also saw the invention of the toothbrush which had bristles made of animal hair. Through the 1800s, dentures were carved from either bone or ivory and human teeth were used in dental implants. Both these dental treatments were uncomfortable and were typically rejected by the body. By the 1800s, implants comprised of filling the sockets of lost teeth with metal. These didn’t last long either.

It wasn’t until the late 1700s that technology paved the way for modern cosmetic dentistry. In the 1700s, prosthetic dental appliances were made of plaster, and then porcelain. The use of making molds of the patient’s mouth resulted in better-fitting, more comfortable dental appliances.

Porcelain dental appliances were popular in the 1800s, which was also the era the rubber material used in false teeth, Vulcanite, was invented. Porcelain became popular for use in a variety of dental procedures such as serving to replace gold and amalgam fillings. In the mid-1800s, the first dental lab was formed.

In the late 1800s, porcelain dental appliances slowly got replaced with acrylics and plastics. Many dentures today are still made of acrylic.

Modern Cosmetic Dentistry

Through the 1900s, cosmetic dental procedures and appliances were still inadequate and uncomfortable, even though the first nylon toothbrush and first electric toothbrushes were invented during this time.

By the late 1900s, the quest for natural-looking and comfortable dental appliances and procedures and an increased demand for aesthetically  pleasing dental work led to the area of dentistry called cosmetic dentistry. Since the late 1990s, cosmetic dentistry has introduced teeth bleaching, advanced dental implants and dental veneers.

Here’s a look at the development of the common modern cosmetic dental procedures:

Teeth Whitening. The concept of modern teeth whitening began in the 1800s, with mixed results. Dentists began using hydrogen peroxide and other bleaching agents in the 1900s. In 1989, the at-home bleaching tray whitening  was invented and which used carbamide peroxide as its whitening agent.  

Laser Teeth Whitening . In the 1960s, laser dentistry was used to treat gum disease. In 1996, however, laser dentistry was approved to be used for teeth whitening. In laser teeth whitening, light or heat is combined with a whitening agent.

Composite Dental Fillings. The invention of bonding acrylic resin to teeth enamel was in 1949. In 1955 a white tooth-colored filling material was invented as well as an acid etch technique that made for better adhesion of the filling to the tooth surface. A thermoset resin was invented in the early 1960s which didn’t become popular until the 1980s.

Dental Veneers. These cosmetic dental appliances were made in the 1930s to serve as a temporary tooth replacement for movie stars. These dental veneers were held in place with denture adhesive. In 1982, dentists utilized a technique whereby porcelain veneers were permanently bonded to teeth. Today’s veneers are wafer-thin and can last up to 15 years.  

Dental Implants. The first experiment of inserting a dental implant screw was done in1937. In 1952, a Swedish doctor came up with a process where the titanium screw was able to be fused to bone. This process, called osteointegration paved the way to make the first dental implant in 1965. Dental implants began to be marketed in the early 1980s. The 1990s saw a huge demand for implants to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are still popular today.  

People have been bettering the look of their smiles for thousands of years. If you’re tired of hiding your smile or want to enhance your smile, contact us at Hazzouri Dental. We provide outstanding cosmetic dentistry in Scranton PA and have more than 60 years of experience in bettering the appearance of patient’s mouths in the most modern ways with the latest technology. We’d love to give you the mouth you’ve always wanted.