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Incredible Historic Dental Facts You Need to Know

If you regularly read this blog, you understand our commitment to sharing great information about your dental health and overall dental care. There is nothing more important to me than educating my patients and using the latest tools to treat their dental problems. In order to appreciate the latest technology, it’s important to look back at how far dentistry has evolved over the years — centuries even.

Today I want to share some interesting dental facts that have paved the way for the modern treatment we have in my St. John and Valparaiso dental offices.

Dental implants were discovered by mistake. When the Swedish researcher Per-Ingvar Brånemark discovered that titanium naturally fuses with bone, he wasn’t researching dental implants. He made the discovery while studying blood flow in rabbits after he implanted a titanium chamber in a rabbit’s bone and found that the chamber had merged with the rabbit’s bone. This process became known as osseointegration, and Brånemark soon began using the concept for dental implants.

George Washington never had wooden teeth. George Washington was known for his poor dental health. In fact, it’s written that George Washington only had one remaining tooth by the time he was inaugurated as president. Washington did have dentures. This much we know. One pair was noted to be made from Hippopotamus tusk. Historians know this because they found the actual invoice sheet.

Root Canal myth started in the 1920s. I know many things I still enjoy that were established in the 1920s, but this myth isn’t one of them. This myth was created by Dr. Weston Price and has been disproved many times over. Dr. Price alleged that root canals can cause illnesses or infection elsewhere in the body. There is currently no scientific evidence that root canals are harmful to your body. In fact, the root canal remains the best way to restore an abscessed tooth or to save an infected tooth from extraction.

Dental cavities soared when cola was introduced to the American public. Americans love their soda, which was widely distributed for the first time in the late 1800s. Not surprisingly, when soda was first introduced, people’s teeth paid the price — and continue to pay the price. I’m like most dentists who warns patients about the dangers of soft drinks. A study in 2004 proved that non-cola beverages — Sprite, 7 Up, Sierra Mist — were more than to cause tooth decay than cola beverages — Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, or Pepsi. The reason is that non-cola beverages traditionally have more citric acid — major cause of enamel erosion — than cola beverages.

Most dentists no longer use novocaine. Dentists began using novocaine to numb the area that needed to be restored in the early 1900s. Before novocaine, dentists regularly used liquid cocaine, which was discovered to be highly addicted. The use of novocaine was later reduced because many patients were allergic to the medicine. Today, dentists more commonly use lidocaine or a local anesthetic.

Dental floss was used during a jail break. A man in West Virginia once escaped from jail using a rope he braided out of dental floss. That’s certainly one way to use dental floss, though we don’t recommend this — the man was later caught and sentenced to more time in prison. The preferred use of floss is for your teeth. About 35 percent of your tooth is below the gumline, and the best way to clean that area is with dental floss.

These are some of my favorite dental facts. I hope they have help you see the modern age of dentistry a little differently. If you have questions for us or need to 219-322-9920 or the Valparaiso office at 219-462-1970.

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About Us

Creating Smiles, PC, located in St. John and Valparaiso, Indiana, offers everything you need for a healthy smile and a healthier life. Dr. Kapers and his team can take the anxiety and uncertainty out of dental visits with sedation dentistry, and we're the premier provider of dental implants in the region.