How Dentistry Has Evolved Over The Last 60 Years
Over the last 60 years, there have been numerous advancements in treatment and innovations in technology that have helped dentists keep up with the demands of today’s health industry. This includes improvements in techniques, the introduction of new specialties, and further clinical trials that have ultimately resulted in what we know today as modern dentistry.
Dentistry From the Early ’60s to Today
To see how far we’ve come, we’re here to take a short look back on history and see what’s changed over the last few decades:
- The 1960s: Dental practices during the ’60s were focused on treatment-based results, but the 60’s also brought out the idea of preventative treatments to help prevent the onset of cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems in children. This initiative introduced treatments such as fluoride, diet changes, and 6-month exams as new options for families to improve their form of care and avoid operative costs. Operative dentistry was the main specialty during this time, and due to the lack of economic inflation, education during this period consisted of 4-year degrees from most universities. Specialties such as endodontics, periodontics, and pediatric dentistry were primitive in their concept, and others, such as aesthetic dentistry, didn’t exist yet.
- The 1970s: During the ’70s, this time brought out more dental specialties were brought into the light, and the first dental benefits plan took the national stage as those began seeing the benefits of preventative treatment. While the inflation rates of the time didn’t follow through into today’s price ranges, steady advances were being made due to increased demand for dental treatment.
- The 1980s: During the 80s, the desire for tooth-colored restorations took hold over metal crowns used in the 50s. The 70s’ aesthetic took off and reinforced the use of composite resins to help transform restorative treatment, even while methods were limited at the time.
- The 1990s: The ’90s is considered one of the biggest periods for dentistry, as it increased dental wages and dental certification requirements within the field due to advancements in technology. The mainstream introduction of the computer changed dental practices forever, and thus the number of dental establishments across the country continued to increase. Furthermore, studies in sleep apnea cases, oral cancer detection, denture options, and ceramic restorations started to take flight during this growth period. Overall, many newer technologies such as cone beam technology and the microscope for dentists were being introduced and incorporated into more dental practice time, giving birth to newer specialties such as aesthetic dentistry.
- The 2000s: The 2000s to the 2010s caused social change within the dental industry. More women and minorities began entering the dental field, and more advancements in technology helped introduce laser treatments, digital x-rays, and computer-aided manufacturing into the field. These advancements moved dentistry fully from treatment-based practices to prevention-based practices and helped create the foundation for successful dental companies to provide numerous options for treatment.
- Today: By today’s standards, the introduction of women and minorities created new strides, as dental students are more than 50% female compared to the 70% male geographic back in the 60s. At least 25% of dentists are now considered specialists, with at least 50% of dentists are now members of corporate practices. Competition for dental practices has increased significantly, and technological innovation with prevention methods has been the main focus since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
What We Predict For The Future of Dentistry
Today, dental service organizations, management care methods, and a focal point on conservative treatments will likely take up the next 10 to 20 years. As the innovation of dental techniques and products continues to change over time, patients can always take this opportunity to learn from their dentist how they can be insightful about their dental health and help keep their teeth clean.