History of Dentistry

From brushing and flossing to straightening and whitening, people today put a lot of work into maintaining a health and appearance to their smile. The current trend is for straight, pearly white teeth. But history of dental care stretches all the way back to the beginning of human society.

Ancient ways of cleaning teeth

Prehistoric humans who lived before the advert of oral care actually had very few dental problems. Scientists believe this is on account of their diet, which consisted of unprocessed fibrous foods that help clean their teeth while they ate. However as human evolved, so did the food on menu. Overtime, people found if they didn’t take care of their teeth, they developed dental problems.

Archaeology found evidence that early humans cleaned their teeth by picking at them with things like porcupine quills, animal bones, and tree twigs.

In earlier 3,500 BCE, Mesopotamians were using chew sticks to clean their teeth. Egyptian and Chinese have known to use them as well.

Tooth Decay

Ancient people were always aware of the tooth decay. But the first known scientific theory about its causes dates back at least 5,000 years, to Ancient Sumeria. The theory was that cavities were caused by a creature known as the tooth worm, which they believed would wore holes in teeth.

Cavities can actually resemble the kinds of holes that the worms bore through other materials, like wood. The Sumerians, Greeks, Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian people all believed in the tooth worm. Some European doctors were still warning people that worms were the cause of their tooth decay as late as the 14th century.

First Toothbrush

Though no one knows exactly when people started brushing their teeth, archeologists believed the practice originated somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 BCE. The Babylonians and the Egyptians were the first cultures we know of to fashion rudimentary toothbrushes, which were made mostly from twigs.

The first used bristle toothbrush was created in China sometime during the Tang dynasty, between the 7tg and 10th centuries. It was made from hog bristles which would have been attached to a handle carved from bone or bamboo.

Explorers eventually brought these to the West. And in the 17th century, they began to be adopted in Europe.

New trend

In modern times, the dental ideal is considered to be a bright smile with straight white teeth. People will wear braces, use whiteners, to achieve the look. But most didn’t realise, its a relatively new fashion.

The popularity of look really only goes back to the 20th century and was greatly created by Hollywood movies. The trend, arguably, began their veneers, created by cosmetic dentist named Marcus Pincus in the 1940s. It was spotted by movie stars, like Shirley Temple and Judy Garland, who became famous for perfect smiles.

Judy Garland

While mass market teeth whitening products didn’t became a thing until the 1980s, teeth whitening itself is nothing new.

Mountain of light: Kohinoor

Kohinoor, which means mountain of light, is a colourless Diamond which was discovered in the mines of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh somewhere in the 13th century. It was the biggest Diamond ever known to mankind during that time.

Currently, this Diamond is embedded in the Queen’s Mother’s crown. Governments of India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have all claimed the ownership of this Diamond, but the UK governments has denied it stating that it was obtained legally.

Journey

Kohinoor has rich history behind it, though it is generally believed that this Diamond was discovered in 13th century during the kakatiya dynasty rule. There are scholars who dispute saying that the Diamond was discovered in the 16th century in Golconda. Kohinoor was taken by Alauddin Khilji who’s army defeated the Kakatiya dynasty.

It was with the Mughals most of the time after it’s discovery. However, Mughal lost the battle against Nadirshah in 17th century. It was Nadirshah who took the diamond from the Mughals and named it Kohinoor. After Nadirshah’s death, the diamond was passed on to Ahmad Shah Durrani who was his General.

After that Kohinoor was later gifted to Ranjit Singh by the Durrani dynasty during early 18th century. However, British East India Company defeated Ranjit Singh’s army in mid 18th century and took possession of this Diamond. Kohinoor was later shipped to Britain and the diamond was gifted to Queen Victoria in 1850 and Kohinoor has been in possession of the Royal Family since then.

Cursed?

An ancient Hindu text describe this diamond as

He who owns the diamond will own The World, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God and women can wear it with impunity.

Well by the consequences that we have seen so far it is quite evident that whoever has owned this diamond we’re either defeated or died.

  • Kakatiya dynasty (original owner) defeated by Alauddin Khilji
  • Alauddin Khilji died shortly after that and the diamond was passed on to Mughals.
  • Mughals lost the war to Nadirshah weakening their army.
  • Nadirshah died while Kohinoor was in his possession.
  • Ahmad Shah Durrani died while Kohinoor was in possession.
  • Ranjit Singh had Kohinoor with him when he lost the war with British.
  • British Empire started losing hold on its colonies including India when they had Kohinoor

This supposedly curse of Kohinoor in Britain. Only the Queen is allowed to wear the Kohinoor diamond. Men are prohibited in using it. With such a history of blood and violence behind it, no wonder this diamond has generated more curiosity in people over a period of time. We might not know if this diamond will come back to India, but the bigger question is will this be a blessing of disguised for India.