The Past, Present, and Future of Dental Technology

Toothbrushes & Toothpaste

Dental Technologies have come a long way, resulting in better, more efficient oral healthcare for patients. Here is a brief history of dental technology, followed by the newest advancements in dentistry today.
While early populations used small sticks or twigs to clean teeth, the Europeans adapted the bristle brush by the 17th century. The electric toothbrush was introduced to the USA in 1960.

Early recipes of toothpaste included powdered fruit, talc, and dried flowers. Many concoctions, unfortunately, dissolved tooth enamel. The toothpaste that we are familiar with today made it’s first appearance in the 1800s and was made with soap and chalk. By 1956, Crest toothpaste with fluoride was first introduced. Today, toothpaste is composed of water, abrasives, fluoride, and detergents.

Fluoridated Drinking Water

Introducing fluoride into the water supply can help fight tooth decay. Testing has shown that fluoride reduces the incidence of cavities by approximately two-thirds. In 1951, the United States Public Health Service urged the country to fluoridate public drinking water. The ideal ratio for reducing decay without damaging teeth is one part fluoride per one million parts water. Today, more than 60% of Americans have access to fluoridated drinking water.

The Roaring 19th Century

In 1840, Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris invented modern dentistry by founding the first dental school: the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. They awarded the DDS degree and created the first professional dental society.

Current Issues in Dentistry

As we look to improve the status of oral health care in the US, it is important to continuously integrate dentistry into the concept of comprehensive, total-body health care. Researchers are investigating the notion of growing new teeth and used computer-assisted technology for diagnosis and treatments. We must promote health on a community level!

Advancements in Dental Technology

CAD/CAM: Computer Assisted Design/Computer Assisted Manufacture: This technology allows for the design of dental restorations that resemble natural teeth. It is commonly used for bridges, inlays/onlays, veneers, and crowns. First, an image called a dental impression, is taken and an image is projected with a computer. Software is able to create a virtual restoration that will ultimately be used to improve your smile.


Air-abrasion is a great dental advancement over the dental drill as it allows precise removal of decayed teeth without the use of a local anesthetic. The air-abrasion system uses blasts of pellets of air and aluminum oxide to treat tooth problems such as cavities.

Digital X-Rays

These types of x-rays are faster, easy to store, and safer than radiographs. They use 75% less radiation, and can easily be emailed to other specialists for collaboration. They are better for the environment and are a major improvement in the field of dental imaging. Today, we even have the technology for digital dentures.

Curing lights

These are also used quite extensively in modern dental practices to cure composites. Resin-based composites are able to harden with exposure to a high-intensity light source. In addition, the rise of electronic dental records have made record-keeping very easy and organized, and allows the transmission of information between doctors.

Overall, the field of dentistry continues to expand and advance in outstanding ways. The future of oral healthcare appears bright, just like our patients’ smiles!

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