Cosmetic Dentistry Through the Years

Cosmetic dentistry seems like a modern branch of dentistry, but when looking back at the history of dentistry, even our ancestors took measures to improve the way their smiles looked.

In the beginning….

As early as the ancient Egyptians, people used different materials as dentures or tooth replacements. Teeth that had been extracted from other people (dead or alive) were sold as dentures, and later they advanced to using shells instead. Early on, whitening “tooth paste” was made from vinegar or urine in order to scrub stains from teeth.

17 and 1800’s

Dentists began making dentures from porcelain, which was a huge improvement in terms of their ability to last as well as the look of the dentures. The dentures looked so attractive that people began wanting to have porcelain dentures in place of their teeth, even if they were not having any dental issues. This especially became popular at the advent of the use of plaster to find the mold of the teeth to create custom-fitting dentures.This made dentures more comfortable, especially once a rubber-like substance was invented to line the dentures.

Modern Day Practices

Tooth whitening really got its start when dentists began to mix hydrogen peroxide with a bleaching light to whiten teeth. In 1989, at home bleaching trays were invented, and tooth whitening began to become common practice. Lasers were approved for whitening teeth in 1996. Now, there are so many options for whitening your teeth that most people have tried at least some sort of whitening agent.

Composite/resin fillings (which are white to match your teeth) became popular in 1980 and are now commonly used in most dental practices. They are aesthetically pleasing, as well as longer lasting and safer, because they don’t contain mercury. If you still have non-resin fillings in your mouth, keep an eye on them because they have a tendency to crack and wear down.

Implants were first attempted in 1965, but were not widely used until until the 1990’s. Now it is commonplace to put in an implant for a missing tooth, and dentists have the ability to make them virtually unnoticeable.

Cosmetic dentistry has definitely come a long way from the ancient, sometimes unsanitary, practices used in the past, but it is interesting to see that even the ancient cultures placed value in the look of their smiles. Check out our website’s cosmetic section for the variety of treatments and options to improve your smile. Improving your smile has the potential for lasting positive effects on many aspects of your life.


About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)

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