Although primarily associated with teeth among the general public, the field of dentistry or dental medicine is not limited to teeth but includes other aspects of the craniofacial complex including the temporomandibular joint and other supporting, muscular, lymphatic, nervous, vascular, and anatomical structures. Dental treatments are carried out by a dental team, which often consists of a dentist and dental auxiliaries (dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, as well as dental therapists). It is thought that dental surgery was the first specialization from medicine.
The term dentistry comes from dentist, which comes from French dentiste, which comes from the French and Latin words for tooth. Dentistry usually encompasses practices related to the oral cavity. The majority of dental treatments are carried out to prevent or treat the two most common oral diseases which are dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease or pyorrhea). Common treatments involve the restoration of teeth, extraction or surgical removal of teeth, scaling and root planing and endodontic root canal treatment. Dentists need to complete additional qualifications or continuing education to carry out more complex treatments such as sedation, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and dental implants. The concept that oral health can affect systemic health and disease is referred to as "oral-systemic health".
Dr. John M. Harris started the world's first dental school in Bainbridge, Ohio, and helped to establish dentistry as a health profession. It opened on 21 February 1828, and today is a dental museum. For example, dentists that graduated from Israeli dental schools may recommend the removal of asymptomatic impacted third molar (wisdom teeth) more often than dentists that graduated from Latin American or Eastern European dental schools. However, others could legally describe themselves as "dental experts" or "dental consultants". Though not mandatory, many dentists choose to complete an internship or residency focusing on specific aspects of dental care after they have received their dental degree.
Exactly which subjects are recognized by dental registration bodies varies according to location. Dental public health – Conservative dentistry and endodontics: Root canal therapy and study of diseases of the dental pulp and periapical tissues. The gathering and use of dental evidence in law. Geriatric dentistry or Geriodontics – Oral and maxillofacial pathology – The study, diagnosis, and sometimes the treatment of oral and maxillofacial related diseases. Oral and maxillofacial radiology – The study and radiologic interpretation of oral and maxillofacial diseases. Oral and maxillofacial surgery (also called oral surgery) Oral biology – Research in dental and craniofacial biology The art and science of replacing extracted teeth with dental implants. Oral medicine – Pediatric dentistry (also called pedodontics) – Dentistry for children The study and treatment of diseases of the periodontium (non-surgical and surgical) as well as placement and maintenance of dental implants Prosthodontics (also called prosthetic dentistry) Special needs dentistry (also called special care dentistry) Veterinary dentistry, a speciality of veterinary medicine – An infected tooth from Italy partially cleaned with flint tools, between 13,820 and 14,160 years old, represents the oldest known dentistry, although a 2017 study suggests that 130,000 years ago the Neanderthals already used rudimentary dentistry tools. The earliest dental filling, made of beeswax, was discovered in Slovenia and dates from 6500 years ago. An ancient Sumerian text describes a "tooth worm" as the cause of dental caries. In the 18th century BC, the Code of Hammurabi referenced dental extraction twice as it related to punishment. Ancient Greek scholars Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry, including the eruption pattern of teeth, treating decayed teeth and gum disease, extracting teeth with forceps, and using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws. The Egyptians bound replacement teeth together with gold wire. Roman medical writer Cornelius Celsus wrote extensively of oral diseases as well as dental treatments such as narcotic-containing emollients and astringents. Historically, dental extractions have been used to treat a variety of illnesses. Barbers usually limited their practice to extracting teeth which alleviated pain and associated chronic tooth infection. Instruments used for dental extractions date back several centuries. In the 14th century, Guy de Chauliac most probably invented the dental pelican (resembling a pelican's beak) which was used to perform dental extractions up until the late 18th century. 1690) made an early dental observation with characteristic humour:
He introduced dental fillings as treatment for dental cavities. Fauchard was the pioneer of dental prosthesis, and he discovered many methods to replace lost teeth. He also introduced dental braces, although they were initially made of gold, he discovered that the teeth position could be corrected as the teeth would follow the pattern of the wires. After Fauchard, the study of dentistry rapidly expanded. For example, evidence since 1977 has shown that seeing a dentist every six months, as is standard in the United States, is not associated with improved dental or oral health. Many dentists agree that adults with good oral hygiene need to have a routine dental exam only once every 12 to 16 months. Evidence of fraudulent dental treatments date back to the 18th century.
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