Greeks history of dentistry – The ancient Greeks lived and flourished in an age of discovery. It was during the time of this civilization that there was much advancement made in the field of medicine. The earliest of these advancements in history of dentistry was found in the fifth century B.C. A medical school located on the Isle of Cos and Cnidus was the centerpiece of discovery at that time. The Greeks were firm believers in the worship of various gods. Much of the medicine that was practiced at this time was based on the worship of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing and medicine.
The manner in which a toothache was treated in Greeks history of dentistry was also based on this belief. A patient with a toothache was brought to a priest for medical treatment. The first phase of the treatment was a form of relaxation. The patient was given a sleep- inducing potion that helped to bring him or her into a state of relaxation. The priest would visit the patient while he or she was in this semi wakeful sleep. He would instruct the patient on a course of treatment.
If the treatment was successful, the patient would have to make some type of tribute to the healing temple. The tribute generally took the form of stone tablets carved in the shape of the afflicted body part, in this case a tooth. The tablets used in Greeks history of dentistry would have writing carved into them with words praising Asclepius. It is interesting to note that numerous stones carved in the shape of teeth have been found at archeological digs at ancient temples.
The Greeks history of dentistry is also noted for its development of an alternative method of medicine known as the Hippocratic method. This method was named after a man who was known as the father of modem medicine, Hippocrates. The method in Greeks history of dentistry, which Hippocrates utilized in treating patients, was one of observation. He would observe the ailments of his patients and then treat them rationally and systematically. He based all states of disease and health on the balance of what he termed cardinal humors and elemental conditions.
Hippocrates believed that the cardinal humours consisted of four bodily fluids—blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. In conjunction with these were the four elemental conditions—cold, hot, thy, and moist. He believed that the perfect balance of these eight states meant physical wellness for the patient. An unbalance of any of these resulted in disease. Different unbalances were related to different diseases of the body in Greeks history of dentistry. Hippocrates’s observation of his patient in relation to these balances and unbalances was his method of treating patients.
Hippocrates in Greeks history of dentistry is also known for the research and books he wrote about the maladies of the teeth and mouth. He believed that all dental problems were related to a natural inherited weakness of the body. He was against the use of extractions as a treatment unless a tooth was loose and, therefore, unable to be saved. Carious teeth, he thought, should be treated symptomatically and not removed. Hippocrates and Aristotle,in Greeks history of dentistry, wrote of ointments and cautery with a red hot wire to treat diseases of the teeth and oral tissues. They also spoke of tooth extraction and the use of wires to stabilize jaw fractures or bind loose teeth.
The medical field flourished throughout the Greeks history of dentistry as a result of Hippocrates’s teachings. The learning of arts and sciences continued under the rule of Alexander the Great into the third century B.C. Evidence of this has been discovered in archeological sites in recent years. Another famous Greek physician named Claudius Galen is noteworthy. His lifespan was from A.D. 120 to A.D. 199.
He is best known for his writings on medical advances during his era. Part of his medical writing included information on dentistry and dental anatomy. It is in Galen’s writings that we find documentation that teeth are made of bone. It was his belief that, since teeth are exposed, they must contain nerves within their structure. This, then, would protect the teeth from damage due to mechanical use. It is interesting that this premise of Galen’s mentioned in Greeks history of dentistry is still maintained today.