Dentistry in the middle ages – The Middle Ages, for the most part, was a time of stagnation as far as dental history is concerned. Medical advancements as a whole seemed to come to a complete standstill. Dental advances during this time were almost absent, with a few noted exceptions. This dry spell continued until the days of the Renaissance.
Though the advances were limited in dentistry in the middle ages, there were some notable discoveries during the Middle Ages. One of the most prominent was by a physician named Scrapion who lived during the tenth century. This physician, through his research, accurately described the number of roots found in a particular tooth.
He also hypothesized correctly the reasoning behind why teeth contain a different number of roots. It was his opinion that lower molars only required two roots due to their strong jaw support. He also noted that, in contrast, upper molars required three roots as they have less jaw support.
Another noted dental figure in the dentistry in the middle ages was Abulcasis. He was a resident of Spain and lived between 1045 and 1120 A.D. He noted the necessity of oral hygiene. He wrote many works on the subject of teeth cleaning.
These works included the importance of oral hygiene and the consequences of not following it. Abulcasis also wrote a list of his opinion of the rules to be followed for completing dental extractions in dentistry in the middle ages. This did, however, include his opinion that any tooth extraction should only be done as a last resort.
Throughout the dentistry in the middle ages in Europe, physicians or surgeons who would go to the patient’s home made dentistry available to wealthier individuals. Decay would sometimes be removed from teeth with a “dental drill,” a metal rod that was rotated between the palms. Soft filling materials provided short-term alleviation of discomfort by keeping air from the open cavity.
Dentistry in the middle ages for poorer people took place in the marketplace, where self -taught vagabonds would extract teeth for a small fee. From the Middle Ages to the early 1700s much dental therapy was provided by so called “barber surgeons.” These jacks-of-all-trades would not only extract teeth and perform minor surgery, but they also cut hair, applied leeches for bleeding, and performed embalming.
Italian sources from the 1400s mention the use of gold leaf as dental filling material in dentistry in the middle ages. Later, the French described the use of soft lead fillings to repair teeth after decay was removed.
There is little documentation of any advances of dentistry in the middle ages. It was not until the dawn of the Renaissance that any medical discoveries flourished. It was during this time that the study of dentistry became a separate science among the prestigious scientists of the day.