For hundreds of years humans have tried to implement dental care. There is proof of ancient dentistry dating back over to 9,000, writings regarding the treatment of malocclusion from big brained Hypocrites and Socrates and proof that once upon a time the skills of a barber and a dentist were one and the same. What a difference several hundred years and evolution can make.
Fortunately, things have advanced since the earliest dentistry was practiced. Over the past century plus, humans have gained the common knowledge regarding the relationship between tooth decay and dental plaque and that practicing daily oral hygiene is the best way to boost dental health. While this may appear to be a common sense approach to dental care, it was not always the case and hundreds of years of misconception has lead to the formation of modern dentistry and skilled dentists up to practicing the task.
Tooth Worms, the 18th Century
The world's earliest doctors were more aligned with magic than medicine as for hundreds of years superstition not scientific discovery helped dictate the health and dental treatments a medical professional would implement. During the 18th century the medical business was still archaic, doctors of the time period never heard of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, germs, or viruses and sterilization was not even a thought. It was also during this time period that primitive dentists thought that tooth worms were the cause of dental problems including tooth decay and gum disease, fortunately that is no longer case.
For thousands of years humans have struggle to figure out the cause of common dental problems, text from 5000 BC initially introduced the mythological "tooth worm" as the cause of cavities. During that time period and up to the Middle Ages, processed food was unheard of and the traditional diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, water and small amounts of lean meat from hunting and gatheringthat supported tooth health. The type of diet popular in the Bronze Age and Iron Age mostly kept dental plaque at bay, and when cavities started to pop up (thanks to the increase in foods such as maize and sugar cane), worms were thought to be the cause.
French dentist Pierre Fauchard is accredited to changing all that. Fauchard published his work "The Surgeon Dentist" in 1728 and discussed tooth anatomy, dental treatments such as tooth extractions and restoration and was the first to cast doubt on the tooth worm theory as he reviewed mouth scraping under a microscope and saw no evidence of worms. Fauchard was the first to see a relationship between cavities and sugar, suggested the best positions to sit in for dental exams and helped kick off the modern age of dentistry.