The History of Dentistry

“Barber-Surgeon” — a phrase most people have never heard and most likely have no idea what it means, let alone, what it has to do with the practice of dentistry. This article provides a brief explanation of who barber-surgeons were, and how they relate to dentists today. a nice picture looking up at a family of three from below

Few people know that barbering (the simple practice of cutting hair on the scalp) and dentistry an old barber chair with tattered leather seats surrounded by barn wood(concerned with dental health) co-existed for many years. As far back as the Bronze Age (3500 BC) men were having their hair cut and faces shaved. Barbering, the styling of men’s hair was introduced in Rome about 296 BC. Barbers quickly became both popular and prosperous as “barber shops” opened up all over Rome and were the center of daily news and gossip.

Civilized men of Rome were clean-shaven, while slaves were forced to wear their hair and beards long, and had limited access to the barber who was now doing more than just cutting hair. It was during this time that barbers became surgeons, performing a verity of procedures including bloodletting, amputating limbs wounded in battle, and removing damaged diseased teeth.

The barber pole for many years has been the symbol of the barber shop where men (and women) have their hair cut and styled.

Since barbers were not only cutting hair but also performing the services of a surgeon, they now became known as “barber-surgeons”. This new and fast growing business made it necessary to organize these individuals to give each the classification they required to perform their respective services. In 1094, the first organization of barbers and barber-surgeons was formed to distinguish between academic surgeons and barber-¬¨surgeons. The college of Saint Come was formed in Paris around the year 1210.

The barber pole for many years has been the symbol of the barber shop where men (and women) have their hair cut and styled. In the past, however, it also referred to the performance of surgery, tooth extracting, and bloodletting. After the barber-surgeon would extract a bad tooth, he would clean up the blood with a white cloth. He would then hang the white cloth with the fresh blood outside the shop to dry. The wind would cause the towel to wrap around and give the effect of red strips on a white pole. This quickly became the symbol of the barber-surgeon – the man who would cut hair, perform other surgery, and pull teeth.