History of the Dentist: 1720, 1820, 1920, 2020

Are you the type of person who gets excited or nervous before your dentist appointment with Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, or Dr. Smith? Although it’s completely normal to have a few butterflies before you sit in the exam chair, you should be excited that you’re not sitting in a dental office in 1720–you might not have had any teeth when you left! At FDA, we are committed to patient comfort no matter the century. But what was it like being a patient of dentists 100, 200, or even 300 years ago? Let’s take a look! 

1720: Fake Smiles 

The 1700’s saw the first professionals trained in the treatment of teeth. However, a combination of disease, high-sugar diets, and very few fresh fruits and vegetables meant most people suffered from slow and painful tooth decay and loss. Because of this, 18th century dentists were focused on tooth extraction and not tooth preservation.

The tools used for extracting teeth were not elegant–and anesthetic technology had yet to be invented. Forceps, pliers, hot coals, and string were all common tools of the dental trade. In fact, specially-trained dentists only serviced the wealthy; middle and lower class folks frequently visited their local blacksmith if they had a toothache. 

With tooth loss running rampant, false teeth were extremely common. Ivory and porcelain were popular materials for making a set of false teeth– but nothing could beat genuine human teeth! It was common practice to pay people (especially children and teenagers) for their teeth. Although it seems incredible now, during a time when poverty was common, a penny for an incisor or molar was a tempting offer for many people!

1820: Comfortably Numb

Three important scientific discoveries during the 19th century propelled dentistry towards the science and practice of preserving smiles. 

American dentist Horace Wells first applied the anesthetic effects of nitrous oxide in a tooth extraction, leading to more comfortable dental visits and pioneering other anesthetic techniques. 

A few states away, Charles Goodyear was experimenting with techniques to make a flexible rubber, which he called Vulcanite. Dentist Thomas W. Evans took Goodyear’s vulcanite and created a rubberized denture–a much more cost effective option compared to ivory or porcelain. Dr. Evans eventually created a set of vulcanite dentures for Mr. Goodyear. 

Last but certainly not least, 19th century microbiologist Dr. Willoughby D. Miller was the first dentist to suggest that bacteria in the mouth was to blame for tooth decay. So began the never-ending fight against cavities! 

1920: Setting the Standard

The 19th century laid the groundwork for the modern practice of dentistry, and the 20th century continued to build on that foundation.

The use of x-ray technology on teeth affirmed dentistry’s commitment to tooth preservation. Dr. Frederick McKay devoted his dental practice to the study of fluoride’s effects on enamel health–ultimately leading to the fluoridation of city water across the United States. 

Dental schools took definite shape in the 20th century; the American Dental Association started the practice of formal licensure for clinics and practice; modern dental tools such as tarter scrapers and removers were invented and standardized across the practice. 

2020: Helping Hands

As you can see, the 21st century is the best place to be when it comes to dental care. The largest shift from the 20th to the 21st century was the introduction of dental hygienists as integral members of the dental practice. 

We are grateful for our incredible team of hygienists, they help us provide you with the best oral health care.  We’re also happy that all of our dentists are kind, talented, and trained medical professionals–not blacksmiths with pliers and a spare moment! We pride ourselves on providing not just great dentistry, but compassionate and stress-free oral health care!

We look forward to seeing you at your next 21st century dentist appointment. Be sure to read through our COVID Protocol page to make sure that you’re prepared for your appointment!

Tooth Playlist – Our Top 10 Hits!

All I Want for Christmas…in July is my two front teeth!  It’s time to face the music: Sometimes we just don’t feel like brushing and flossing our teeth! Everyone has days when two minutes of brushing time seems like an eternity. We have a secret weapon for weary brushers: Music! Music pumps us up for sporting events, workouts, long car rides, and yes, even brushing our teeth.

We’ve compiled a playlist of 10 Songs about teeth to get you brushing your teeth and tapping your feet. These are all clean tunes, fit for family members of every toothbrush size. DJ Dentist, take it away! 

1.“Crooked Teeth” by Death Cab for Cutie 

Cause at night the sun in retreat made the skyline look like crooked teeth. 

2. “Brush Your Teeth” by Raffi

When you wake up in the morning at a quarter to one and you want to have a little fun…You brush your teeth! 

3.“Wolves Without Teeth” by Of Monsters and Men

And I run from wolves…without teeth.

4.“All I Want for Christmas” by Nat King Cole

Gee if I could only have my two front teeth!

5.“Dental Care” by Owl City

When hygienists leave on long vacations, that’s when dentists scream and lose their patience. 

6.“Savoy Truffle” by the Beatles

Yes you’ll have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy truffle! 

7.“Kids Just Love to Brush” by Sesame Street 

I’m always in a rush! Oh Mama, I can hardly wait to brush! 

8.“Cavity Search” by Weird Al Yankovic

This is it pal…Root Canal! 

9.“Brushing My Teeth” by Barney

But while I’m brushing my teeth and having so much fun, I never let the water run! 

10.“Baby Take Your Teeth Out” by Frank Zappa

Baby take your teeth out, it’ll be fine! 

Post a video of you and your family brushing along to one of these songs–or your own favorite dental care anthem–and post it to the Falmouth Dental Arts Facebook Page

 

Please note: our office opened on June 1 with new protocols and procedures in place to keep you and our staff safe. You can also read the full list of these updates on our COVID Protocol Page, easily found in the top menu bar of our website, so you know what to expect before your next appointment.  If you are overdue for your appointment, rest assured we will be in touch soon as we catch up with our backlog. We do look forward to seeing you again.  Thank you for being our patient!

 

Feeling Flossy: Alternatives to Traditional Flossing

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: Floss your teeth!  It’s just as important as brushing and crucial to preventing gum disease.  And yet, only about 30% of Americans floss daily.  We understand that it can be a hard habit to fit into your daily oral health routine–the floss gets stuck in your teeth, sometimes your gums bleed, and it feels like it takes forever!  We are often asked if there are any alternatives to flossing and the answer is…yes!  Let’s look at what other options you have for cleaning those hard to reach places between your teeth.

Water Flossing

Water Flossing is a way to clean around and between your teeth with a pressurized steady stream of water.  Perhaps you’ve seen or experienced the device in our office.  Water Flossers can be particularly helpful for patients with braces, dental bridges, dental implants, or gum pocketing.  You can find a Water Flosser with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.  While more expensive than traditional floss, it is a helpful tool for reaching areas that are hard to access with floss and a great option if you find flossing difficult or painful. This is also a great alternative if you are concerned about little plastic floss containers ending up in the landfill. 

Interdental Brushes

Another easy and practical option is an interdental brush.  Studies have shown that when used in combination with regular tooth brushing, an interdental brush can be more effective than floss in removing plaque from between your teeth.  These small, cone-shaped brushes are designed to be inserted gently between your teeth and can be rinsed and reused a few times.  Patients with braces, food traps, dental bridges, or mobility issues may find this a good alternative.  It’s also less of an investment than a Water Flosser.

Dental Picks

As the name suggests, these are small wooden or plastic picks that can be used to remove plaque from between teeth and gums.  Picks aren’t quite as effective as floss and you risk moving bacteria around your mouth unless you use a new pick for each tooth, but they allow for better maneuverability for patients who have braces and thus some hard to reach areas.  Again, it’s always important to look for a product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance

Whichever option you choose, the most important thing about cleaning your teeth is to do it!  Find a routine that works for you and stick with it…your teeth and your gums will thank you!  Also, if you experience bleeding gums from flossing this may be an early sign of periodontal disease–please be sure to inform us of any bleeding at your next visit to our office.  If you have any questions about whether flossing or one of these alternatives is right for you, let us know.  We are here to support you and provide you with the best oral health care!

Also, please note, our office opened on June 1 with new protocols and procedures in place to keep you and our staff safe.  You can also read the full list of these updates on our COVID Protocol Page, easily found in the top menu bar of our website, so you know what to expect before your next appointment.  If you are overdue for your appointment, rest assured we will be in touch soon as we catch up with our backlog. We do look forward to seeing you again.  Thank you for being our patient!

Welcome Dr. Georgia Smith!

“The entire team at Falmouth Dental Arts really cares about our patients and environment. I’m excited to be working and learning alongside Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos.” 

Dr. Georgia Smith grew up just down the road from Falmouth Dental Arts, in Yarmouth, Maine. As the daughter of two veterinarians, Dr. Smith saw the life of medical professionals from a young age, and from a very close point of view. She always valued the aspect of helping people (or pets!), and considered pursuing the family business. As a high school student, she shadowed her childhood dentist and appreciated the work-life balance a career in dentistry provided. 

Dr. Smith earned her undergraduate degree from Northeastern University in Boston, and attended Dalhousie Dental School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After graduating from Dalhousie, Dr. Smith took her practice back to her home state, working in multiple practice locations as the sole on-site dentist. Looking for a more collaborative and team environment, Dr. Smith was referred to Falmouth Dental Arts by a colleague who knew Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos as wonderful teammates.

Braces for All Ages!

Although we usually think of braces as a hallmark of teenage years, there are many reasons that adults could benefit from a straighter smile. The perks of aligning your pearly whites go far beyond vanity. Braces align your bite, enhancing your ability to chew food and even alleviating some speech impediments. Straight teeth are much easier to clean; better brushing and flossing reduces the potential for cavities and periodontal disease. 

However, for many adult patients, the idea of wearing braces carries a sort of stigma. The team at Falmouth Dental Arts encourages all of our patients to have a healthy smile. We want to help you at every step of the journey, no matter your age! Let’s take a look at the three major types of dental braces: 

  • Conventional: Conventional braces consist of a single bracket, mounted to the front of each tooth with dental cement. Wire is strung through the brackets, and the shape and tension of the wire gradually moves teeth to the desired, aligned shape. Brackets can be metal, clear, or ceramic. Conventional braces boast the shortest average treatment time. However, they also are the most noticeable of the three types of braces, which can be a deterrent for some patients. With customizable rubber band options and shiny silver, conventional braces can add some extra sparkle and flair to your smile. A healthy mouth is the best accessory of all! 

  • Lingual: Lingual braces apply the same general concept to orthodontic alignment: brackets are cemented to the teeth, and metal wires work to straighten teeth. However, lingual brackets are cemented to the back of the tooth, not the front. This option eliminates the immediate image concerns. However, because they require a little more customization and time than conventional braces, lingual braces are typically the most expensive brace option. 

  • Aligners: Like a perfect mold of your teeth, aligners are customized clear trays made from an elastic thermoplastic material. Aligning treatments consist of multiple removable trays and enamel-colored “buttons” which are affixed to your teeth. The buttons allow the trays to snap into place and gradually leverage your teeth into the desired configuration. Typically, trays are switched every two weeks. However, aligners require the highest degree of patient discipline because their success relies on the patient remembering and keeping the trays in place for most of the day (typically 20-22 hours per day). Since they require more responsibility, aligners are a good option for adults. Many adults prefer aligners because the clear material is much less visible than conventional options. 

Invisalign is the most recognizable brand of dental aligners. Falmouth Dental Arts now offers Invisalign treatment for our patients. If you think that you could benefit from braces of any kind, discuss the options with your doctor during your next visit. They’ll be happy to discuss the pros and cons of each option with you. If you are a candidate for Conventional or Lingual braces, you will be referred to one of the trusted local orthodontists.

Please note: our office opened on June 1 with new protocols and procedures in place to keep you and our staff safe. You can also read the full list of these updates on our COVID Protocol Page, easily found in the top menu bar of our website, so you know what to expect before your next appointment.  If you are overdue for your appointment, rest assured we will be in touch soon as we catch up with our backlog. We do look forward to seeing you again.  Thank you for being our patient!