Where Does the Word Dentist Come From?

A dentist is the name of a medical practitioner who specializes in the treatment and prevention of oral diseases in the teeth, gums, and oral cavity. The name also defines a doctor who removes or implants teeth, aligns the jaws, or performs any surgical procedure to change the outlook of your teeth.

The term dentist comes from the Latin and French words dentiste and odoús which mean ‘dentist’ and ‘tooth’. But this one small word does little to reveal the spectrum of tooth problems and oral treatments that go into the work of a Palm Beach County dentist. And there are several types of dentists that you might go to during your life, all of which may have a field of specialization that covers an array of oral health problems and treatments.  

Exploring Various Dental Practices

The most popular type of dentist is of course a general dentist who takes care of overall dental and oral health concerns and helps with regular dental care. Some dentists also cover cosmetic procedures, periodontics, and pediatric dentists.

A dental practitioner who has a specific field of expertise, such as specializing in the treatment of tooth cavity complications, is also a dentist. In this case, the dental practitioner will have completed additional schooling and will earn the name of orthodontist.

Dentists can work in a private practice, also called primary care, or in a hospital, which is known as secondary care. A dentist isn’t the only one who might be working to help keep your oral health at its peak. At any given time, a dentist may work with dental assistants, dental therapists, dental technicians, and hygienists in order to help their clients with their dental needs.

Some dentists work in organizations such as prisons and the military. These sectors of dental health often require additional study in order to cover the expectations and needs of the organization. And yet another category of dentists works to oversee the public’s health by coming up with new policies that benefit public health.

Brief History of Dentists

The field of dentistry is an old one, with proof of dental practices going back to 7000 BC. Tooth decay is a severe problem that humans have been faced with since the dawn of time. In the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, people finally started taking their oral health problems into their own hands. To take care of tooth pain, the Indus Valley peoples began to use wood drillers to drill through their sore teeth. At the time, there were no fillers so these holes remained open in the mouth, causing future problems in some cases.

Sumerians were the next to come up with solutions to dental care. These ancient people believed the reasons behind their tooth pains came from worms within the teeth and gums. At the time, these dentists mistook nerves and capillaries in the mouth as small worms beneath the skin.

Next came the early Greek civilizations. These people did not much improve the Sumerians theory, but they did come up with other methods of treatment for tooth problems. The Greeks use forceps to extract the tooth, removing tooth pain by removing the tooth itself. While this left holes in the gums where teeth had been removed, they did not leave teeth filled with holes that could get infected.

Around this time, historical dentists were focusing on tooth decay as the only known oral health problem that could cause severe oral pain. Pierre Fauchard in 1700 shed light on sugary acids as the causes of teeth decaying. Giant steps in the right direction for oral health came from this time, with the first dental school in America opening in 1840. In 1859, the American Association of Dentists formed to offer support to budding dentists in the country.

The Dental Field of Today

Significant progress in the dentistry field today comes from qualified dentists both in the past and the present who have been determined to bring dentistry into the modern world. This doesn’t just mean finding new methods of treating common dental issues, but improving upon the treatments that already exist with new technology and techniques.

The history of dentistry gave a foundation for what is available today. There are modern anesthetic methods, so one doesn’t have to feel pain during the operation. Also, dentists’ skills diversified to focus more on one area at a time making dental treatment, prevention measures and post-treatment procedures effective.