Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Gōngxǐ Fācái! Happy Chinese New Year! February is here, and that means it’s time to celebrate Chinese New Year (CNY). Every CNY marks the arrival of spring in China, which means it’s time to clean house, bust out the fireworks and honor one’s ancestors. It’s a celebration revered in many countries throughout the world – including the U.S.! So, in honor of this year’s CNY celebration we’d like to fill you in on a few contributions the Chinese brought to the dental world, a long, long time ago!
Here are some of the biggies:
Exhibit A: Dental Fillings: During China’s Tang Dynasty period, the Chinese developed a method for filling cavities that involved heating portions of silver and tin in a large pot, and pouring that mixture into a person’s decayed tooth. Ouch! When did they figure this out? Sometime around 659 A.D. The next closest use of this sort of dental amalgam was by a “Dr. Stockerus” in Germany in 1528. That’s almost 900 years later. Wow!
Exhibit B: The Bristled Toothbrush: How would you like to brush your teeth with a piece of bone or bamboo stuffed with neck hair plucked from a boar? Sounds yummy, right? Well, in 1498 the Chinese started doing just that, after inventing the very first “bristled” toothbrush. Bristle brushes were so unique, in fact, that mass production of them didn’t begin until England took a stab at it in 1780. Americans were even further behind, avoiding mass production until 1885. Before the bristled toothbrush, most societies used what is known as a “chew stick” that frays at the ends and produces a degree of friction across the surface of teeth to dislodge food and debris.
Exhibit C: TONS of Other Things: The compass, paper money, gunpowder, the kite (thousands of years before kites appeared in Europe), food … water … okay, we’re joking now. Pretty incredible, right? As a launching point for more info about the wonderful contributions of China’s people to world history and achievement, check out this page on Wikipedia.
Have a great “second” New Year! Try those resolutions on for size again!