The History of Dentistry


Throughout history, trained professionals accompanied by untrained assistants have carried out Dentistry in Portugal. In the 13th century, there was a clear separation between Medical Science and Surgery. Dental treatments were associated with surgery. Originally, barbers were responsible for simple surgical procedures. A Royal Charter in the 17th century established a mandatory exam for surgeons and other occupations such as barbers. Two years later, a fine was created for those who extracted teeth without a license.

Around the 19th century, there was a reform of the health services, and dental surgeons were allowed to practise their profession after obtaining an exam letter and approval from the Kingdom Medical-Surgical schools. In 1870, an exam for dentists was approved by Decree. After the Proclamation of the Republic, the exam for dentists was suspended and this occupation was given over to general practitioners. Later on, the subject of stomatology was introduced to the Faculty of Medicine.

In recent years, Dentistry Schools have been opened at the national level, both in Public and Private Universities.

The History of Dental Implants

Rehabilitation of lost teeth is very important in modern dentistry. Dental loss is caused by tooth decay or periodontal disease. Therefore, there is great demand for their replacement, because of the chewing and aesthetical function of teeth. The conventional methods for rehabilitation include a totally or partially removable prosthesis or fixed prosthesis. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, as well as different indications. Removable prostheses may be uncomfortable, due to the need of removing them once or twice a day. Removing teeth is considered a stigma, especially for younger patients.

For centuries, people have replaced their missing teeth by using dental implants. The origin of dental implants starts with the Greek, Etruscan, and Egyptian civilisations. They used different materials ranging from ivory, metal, and bone. Some of these artefacts evolved into the modern implants known today.

In 1809, Maggido produced gold tooth roots that were attached to the abutment using clips. These gold implants were placed in the area after the extractions, but did not stay immersed in the bone. In 1887, Harris performed an implant surgery with a lead-coated abutment. In 1895, Bonwell used gold and iridium tubes.

In 1913, Greenfield created a basket-shape implant with platinum-iridium wires, welded with gold. This system was used to support simple implants as well as fixed partial prostheses with eight implants. Other materials and designs were used such as porcelain, aluminium oxide, sapphire, and carbon. In 1952, Branemark developed an implant system with a pure titanium screw, which increased the popularity of implants. Unlike the others, Branemark studied all aspects related to the implant project, including biological, mechanical, physiological phenomena, and functional data. The result was an implant system sold only 17 years later due to the extensive clinical testing and completeness of the research.