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Early dentistry used herbs or tooth extractions to cure tooth pain. Barbers and blacksmiths also practiced dentistry. There is evidence dating back to 7000 B.C. that dentistry was practiced with bow drills and that fillings were made of beeswax and other materials. The Code of Hammurabi, which dates to about 18th century B.C., mentions tooth extractions. Remains from ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures include dental prosthetics and other dental treatments.

Dentistry methods and materials advanced in the 17th and early 18th centuries, with many innovations introduced by French physician Pierre Fauchard, often known as the father of modern dentistry. He pioneered the use of dental braces and prostheses, and he crafted dental instruments based on tools used by physicians as well as barbers, jewelers, and watchmakers to treat dental problems more effectively. He also replaced missing teeth with fake teeth made out of carved ivory or bone. Other innovators during this time were British surgeon John Hunter and British dentist James Spence, who worked together to experiment with tooth transplants and wrote about their work.

The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, the first dental school in the world, opened in the United States in 1840, and later originated the doctor of dental sciences (D.D.S.) degree. Colgate introduced the first mass produced toothpaste in 1873, and the first mass produced toothbrushes followed in 1885.

In the 1900s, specific fields within dentistry started to be recognized, with organizations established to provide industry standards and education. For example, the Academy of Prosthodontics originated in meetings that were held by the National Dental Association in 1918 to discuss the need for a prosthodontic organization; this organization was named the Academy of Denture Prosthetics in 1940, and renamed the Academy of Prosthodontics in 1991. The American Prosthodontic Society was founded in 1928. Both of these organizations, among many others, continue to provide education, training, research, and other resources for prosthodontists and related professionals.

Advances in technologies and dental methods and materials continue to improve and enhance the field of prosthodontic dentistry and make treatments more effective and less painful for patients. Today, prosthodontists treat a variety of dental problems, from restoring and replacing missing teeth to oral cancer prosthetic reconstruction and maintenance.

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