The History of Dentistry


Teeth and their decay have been a topic of discussion and practice even before 5000 B.C.! In the earliest documents of Sumerian text, “tooth worms” were thought to be the cause of dental decay. Even Hippocrates and Aristotle both mention dentistry, explaining how to remove teeth, treat decay, gum disease and use wires to hold loose teeth and broken jaws.

The First Dentists

In 1723, the father of Modern Dentistry, Pierre Fauchard, publishes The Surgeon Dentist. The French surgeon’s book describes “basic oral anatomy and function, operative and restorative techniques, and denture construction.” Thirty-seven years later, the first medically trained dentist practices in America. His name is John Baker, and he migrates from England to set up his practice, and in 1760, the first native American dentist (Isaac Greenwood) is born.

Crowns, fillings, drills and fake teeth are all created, and in 1840, the American Society of Dental Surgeons, the world’s first national dental organization is founded, though falls apart in 1856. Unfortunately, anesthesia for dental surgeries didn’t come into use until the mid-1800s, meaning all the surgeries before then must have been quite painful for patients!

The 1860s were an important time in the future of dentists. In 1866, Lucy Hobbs is the first woman to earn a dental degree, and three years later Robert Tanner Freeman is the first African-American to earn a dental degree.

In the 1900s, several things happened that guided us to the modern dentistry practices we have now. Novocain was invented, as were fully reclining dental chairs. Nylon bristle toothbrushes were introduced, along with fluoride toothpaste. And while electric brushes are popular today, did you know they were first introduced in 1960? In 1990, home whitening kits became available. Electric brushes gained popularity, and new gadgets are on the rise to make brushing and flossing easier for everyone.

Modern Dentistry

Today, dentists can do just about anything to give their patients the best teeth possible. The main job of a dentist is to give the patient the best quality of life possible. That means taking away their pain when they have cavities or other decay, replacing missing teeth for a better bite and smile, and promoting the importance of oral health. 

James J. White of Las Vegas, Nevada, has given the city beautiful, healthy smiles since 2000, and has been practicing dentistry since he graduated in 1972 from Northwestern University Dental School. An alumni of the prestigious Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, Dr. White has a great passion for cosmetic and restorative dentistry. Until 1999, he ran a successful private practice in Greenwich, Connecticut, before relocating to Las Vegas. James White Dental offers implants, whitening, TMJ dysfunction, dentures and even full mouth reconstruction.

James White Dental is committed to remaining on the forefront of technology to provide the best, up-to-date care for Las Vegas dental patients. We believe excellent dental care can change a life!

Are you a Las Vegas resident seeking new dental care? James White welcomes new patients to his office for a complimentary first exam or teeth whitening with regular checkups. To learn more about his success or make an appointment, visit our website or call 702-329-8181.