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vintage toothbrushes - dr dennis dunne

This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful for Modern Dental Care

Not to mention just the humble toothbrush

During the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims and American Indians harvested, hunted, and feasted on a great deal of food. We know from history that many people had poor dental health in those times. In fact, some may have had only a few teeth or possibly no teeth due to tooth decay and gum disease. Today, we have ways to prevent many dental care problems and to treat issues when they develop.

Five Advances in Modern Dental Care

  • Toothbrushes: The first celebrants of Thanksgiving used twigs, animal bones, and animal hair to make a crude toothbrush. The first teeth-cleaning devices worked, but not extremely well, plus they suffered from being unsanitary. Today’s molded plastic handles and synthetic brush bristles provide tools for effective and sanitary brushing.
  • Floss: Pilgrims did not know the advantages of daily flossing in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. They may have scraped between their teeth with leaves or tiny bones. We have the luxury of dental floss which glides smoothly and cleanly between our teeth and up to our gum line for a thorough removal of food debris and plaque.
  • Fluoride: Research in the 1940’s showed a connection between fluoride and dental health. Over time, fluoride was introduced into the water supply in the U.S. and fluoridated toothpastes were developed. The introduction of fluoride has helped to battle tooth decay and the formation of cavities.
  • Qualified Dentists: In 1840, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery became the first dental college, not just in the U.S. but in the world. Since then, training and expertise in the dental field has grown vastly and improved greatly. Today’s dental professionals can receive state-of-the-art training in general dentistry and in various specialty areas.
  • Modern Dental Care Techniques: Dental fillings are now made of tooth-colored composites. Permanent dental crowns can be made in the dental office during one visit. Tiny intraoral cameras fit inside our mouths to provide a large image of our teeth to the dentist. Dental technology advances continually; diagnosis and treatment improve along with it.


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