The Father Of Western Medicine And Dentistry

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hipp-250x243From the Famous Dentists Series

Hippocrates is most often known for his namesake, the Hippocratic Oath.

A physician from ancient Greece, Hippocrates is considered the father of Western medicine because of his founding of the Hippocratic School of Medicine. Through this school, he established medicine as an actual profession. This seems strange to us today, but during the era in which he lived, disease and the body was seen very differently.

In fact, Hippocrates’ ideas were so revolutionary, he was imprisoned for 20 years. He used this time to write several well-known medical books. What set Hippocrates against the culture at the time?

He believed that diseases had natural causes instead of being based in superstition and gods. He pulled medicine out of the religious sphere in order to show people that disease came from things like diet, and the way people lived. Dentistry was no different for Hippocrates.

Hippocrates advocated a concept of “do no harm” when it came to medicine, and was the first to suggest that food stuck between teeth was responsible for tooth decay. He suggested pulling teeth that were loose or decayed, as opposed one of several creative ancient Egyptian methods, such as putting the body of a mouse against aching teeth! Hippocrates also addressed the very common problem of bad breath, suggestion different ingredients to use in a mouth wash, such as anise seed, myrrh, and white wine.

The work that Hippocrates did caught the attention of the Etruscans and Romans, inspiring them to try to take care of their teeth in some form. Even though superstition and strange practices crept in, and despite a blow to general dental health in the Middle Ages, Hippocrates was among the first “dentists” to accurately identify some of the causes for tooth problems and determine how to address them.