Historically, your knowledge of dentistry probably coincides with George Washington or you may have heard that Paul Revere was a dentist. You, no doubt, know that President Washington had wooden false teeth. We have come a long way.
Dentistry, however, originated 10,000 years before our first Christmas. I, for one, wonder what people did in ancient times or, for that matter, what they do about their rotten teeth if they live in places where there are no dentists, antibiotics, or knowledge about preventing and treating tooth decay. Some people still believe that tooth decay is caused by tooth worms.
Well, for starters, tooth decay is a major cause of death from systemic infection or maybe when the pain becomes unbearable, patients just be to be put out of their misery. I am told that the pain from an impacted tooth is more severe than childbirth and as opposed to the birth of a child, there is no expectation that it will end until death without dental care.
I already confessed in a previous column that when I was 12 years old, I had a tooth extracted by the local shoemaker because he had a pair of plyers. Yes, they gave me a drink of rum, two men held me down, and the shoemaker extracted my impacted tooth. The bleeding didn't stop for a day but I was passed out from the trauma...and the rum.
We all suffered with Tom Hanks in the movie "Castaway." he could stand it no more and extracted the offending tooth with a skate - not to be compared to your mother tying a string to your seven-year-old tooth as well as to a doorknob and slamming the door. But then the tooth fairy left you a quarter for your troubles.
The first textbook on dentistry was published in 1530 by a Frenchman named Pierre Fauchard. He is recognized as the father of dentistry for writing a comprehensive system for the care of teeth including discovering that acids from sugar caused tooth decay. he also invented fillings of cavities. It wasn't until 1840 when the first dental school was established in Baltimore. The American Dental Association (ADA) was formed 20 years later. In 1873, Colgate invented toothpaste, leading to the habit of daily brushing after WWII and x-rays were not used in dentistry until 1896.
I am found of talking about the wonderful model provided by dentistry for preventative health. Instead of pulling teeth and replacing them with appliance, dentists discovered that if they did a public health thing by fluoridating the drinking water and a clinical thing by encouraging people to visit a dentist twice per year and most importantly, to brush and floss tice per day, we can go a lifetime without requiring any treatment or bad outcomes.
Prevention works in all aspects of healthcare. Our teeth were designed to last over a thousand years. Ten thousand-year-old mummies still have their teeth.
According to Dr. Tommy Farr, (guest presenter at our Kiwanis Club, May 11, 2021) the first dentist came to Thomaston in 1959. His name was A.C. Moore and there are four dentists currently practicing in Thomaston.
Dr. Farr is a remarkable man. I introduced him as the local boy who made good. He attended Rock Hill Elementary School, Yatesville High School, West Georgia College and finally Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry where he graduated in 1977. He then returned to Thomaston where he has been practicing for over 40 years. he is a deacon at Trinity Baptist Church and an active participant in TUAC productions.
He married his college sweetheart (Sheryl Jean Allen) and they are the proud parents of two children (Josh and Tyla) and more importantly, four lovely grandchildren. He is firmly anchored in Christian principles. He is kind, generous and committed to love all of mankind. He has a passion for Ephesians 2:8-10 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
As a result, he has been on several missions to third world countries pulling teeth and educating everyone who will listen about prevention. There is power in knowledge. Baptist Medical/Dental Missions International has allowed him to travel and treat patients in Zambezi (three times), Honduras (three times), and Guatemala. Each time he has been able to help people that don't have access to dental care.
Servitude is the aspect of dentistry that he is most passionate about. Being in a position of service is what gets him up and going in the morning. Serving the dental needs of the people in Upson County brings him enormous satisfaction. For the past six years he has been a part of a mobile dental clinic for Upson, Lamar, Spalding, and Pike counties. he works with Ted Kandler and other dentists to provide free dental care to any member of people in our community.
This past year (due to COVID-19) the mobile clinic didn't operate, but he is hopeful that by this fall he will be able to continue working with the mobile clinic. There is a shortage of dentists in Middle Georgia and everyone of us should adopt a mission to bring more dentists to town.
Finally, do you wonder why the toothbrush is not called a teeth brush? Do you suppose it was invented by someone with only one tooth?