Dentistry is certainly not a new profession that has come in to being in recent times. History has evidence that skilled dentists existed as far back in time as 2500 years ago. This is proven by the fact that many a Native Americans improved the look of their teeth.
Just like other forms of body decoration, they decorated their teeth by carving notches, grooves and even put in semi precious stones that added to the brilliance of their smiles! It seems that elephant tusks are not the only teeth to be embellished in this manner, human teeth were decorated too. This is especially true of Mayans, who as we now know, were very advanced in their knowledge and wisdom. In fact their calendars are still used as reference in modern times.
Archaeology and Anthropology substantiate facts.
These interesting historical facts are brought to light by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. They have a collection of ancient skulls that date back to the Mayan times.
It is clear from this that the need or want for beauty has existed since time immemorial. Among some teeth found in those collections at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, scientists cannot really pinpoint the origins of some teeth that belonged to people living in a region labeled “Mesoamerica”, which existed in the sixteenth century before the historical invasions of the Spanish.
José Concepción Jiménez, an anthropologist at the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology, further adds that these teeth decorations had nothing to do with social class or a system of hierarchy that the natives belonged to. This is backed by the fact that the Red Queen, (royals in those days) a Maya mummy that was discovered in a temple at Palenque in what is now Mexico didn’t have teeth decorations.
Teeth beautification was commonly used by all purely for enhancing the beauty of their teeth, just as body tattoos were. More interestingly, men were more inclined to decorate their teeth than were women. Another discovery of a skull of a person, who had a ceremonial denture, is further evidence that dentistry existed in ancient times.
Knowledge, skill and materials used by dentist in ancient times.
Dentists were highly knowledgeable even in ancient times. This is highlighted by the fact that to drill into the teeth, they used hard stone for example obsidian, which is strong and hard and can puncture bones. Drilling and any form of cosmetic or restorative dental work can be painful, and the possibility of using herbs to kill any pain, before and after the procedure, cannot be ruled out.
The fact the dentistry was really advanced in those times is proven by the evidence that those dentists had the skill and technology to drill into the teeth without touching the delicate pulp in the tooth, it seems like they did know the importance of avoiding that and knew the damage caused by infection could result in loss of the tooth or teeth.
According to Jiménez, to bond semi precious stones like jade, to the teeth, they used a paste made of natural resins, such as plant sap, which was mixed with other natural chemicals and crushed bones. This was certainly long lasting, as the semi precious stones are still in place after hundreds of years!