Dentistry, like many other medical fields, may seem stolid and methodical, but comes from a tradition of scientific reaction to the human need of proper tooth care that stretches back 5,000 years. At times, the medical processes carried out...
by dentists across the years seem interesting when seen through the lens of our modern-day medical knowledge. Other interesting facts include the perception of the dentist by modern clients, the size of the dental industry and various invention for which we have dentists to thank.
> Evidence of stone tools and fossilized human remains provides evidence of dental work that dates as far back as 3000 B.C. Remains from the Aztec culture show that cavities were filled with a mixture of iron filings, water and lint. Dentists in ancient Rome were installing gold crowns and bridgework into their patients' mouths. In early America, blacksmiths often performed many of the duties of dentists. The first female dentist licensed in America was Lucy Hobbs in 1866.
o Dentistry is often associated with other medical fields that are very profitable, but the dentistry industry doesn't do as much business as many other industries, many of which are non-medical. Annually, dentistry accounts for about $50 billion worth of economic activity, which makes it about the same size as the pet food industry and half as large as the hair care industry.
o Annually, at the time of publication, Americans spend about $775 million on toothbrushes and $1.8 billion on toothpaste.
o Many polls and surveys indicate that Americans have a great deal of respect for professional dentists working in the United States. Gallup polls dating back to 1997 indicate that Americans continue to view dentists as trustworthy, good to communicate with and effective at their jobs. A 2004 survey by the Academy of General Dentistry rated dentists better than average for ethics and honesty compared to other medical professions.
o Dentists have created various inventions related to tooth and mouth care over the years, including the toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss, but a dentist is also responsible for the invention of the electric chair. Alfred P. Southwick, a dentist and dental educator, witnessed an accident in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1881 wherein a drunk man died almost instantly after touching an electrical generator. He joined with Buffalo doctor George Fell to experiment on electricity as a more humane means of putting humans to death; their experiments and political interests caused the electric chair to become a legal form of the death penalty by 1889.