Many are unaware that dentistry did not become its own separate field of study until around the 1600s. In fact, no law was passed requiring qualifications to be dentists until around the 1850s. Despite this, many advancements that led us to modern dentistry were done before this time. A French surgeon by the name of Pierre Fauchard is credited as the brave pioneer who led us into modern day dentistry. This is thanks to his many contributions, including the usage of dental prosthetics, dental fillings, and the refinement of many crude tools that were used in dental procedures. Fauchard would even be credited with coming up with the concept of braces. Though they were fashioned with gold at the start, it was Fauchard who discovered that the position and posture of teeth could be corrected with the use of wires to guide the teeth. Early braces used linen or silk threads to fasten these braces.
Around the 1700s, Fauchard’s contributions to the science and discipline of dentistry were made concrete by his creation and publishing of the book, “The Surgeon Dentist”. In this text he includes things such as the basic function and anatomy of the oral cavity, as well as numerous techniques and operations to remedy dental diseases and disorders.
Fauchard’s many contributions to the world of dentistry would dub him the “father of modern dentistry” by historians and dentists alike. Without his many contributions and careful distinction of dentistry from other forms of surgery, many of the advanced techniques and processes we have today, may not have ever existed.
Dr Leslie Griesdorf is a retired dentist who loves to examine the history of the field.