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Image by Stefano Ferrario from Pixabay

“I wrote a song about dental floss but did anyone’s teeth get cleaner?” ― Frank Zappa

Linda here, and it’s time again to share ONE poem for our reading pleasure. There is no specific theme, however if you wish, you can respond to a prompt you may have missed this last week. 

You may be wondering why I chose the quote above. Well, in the last several weeks, I have had numerous dental appointments, and I have another today. To say I am not fond of the dentist is putting it mildly but over the years I have tried to overcome my fear. 

As a child, I grew up very poor and going to the dentist was never on the agenda unless you had a toothache, and only when it was severe. My one memory of a dentist in childhood was when I had an abscessed tooth and a dentist pulled it without any novacaine. Needless to say, it was/is one of the most painful experiences of my life. You don’t forget when something like that happens. Once I became an adult and had a good paying job, I saw the dentist sporadically, in part due to work but mostly because of my overwhelming fear. As a result, I am now paying the price, literally. Most of my teeth either have crowns or fillings. I now regularly go to the dentist and thankfully the anxiety has eased if for no other reason than other painful episodes have taken the place of that childhood memory from long ago.

Since I am hosting OLN today, I decided to look into dentistry and how it began. Here’s a brief history should you be interested.


Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions, dating back to 7000 B.C. with the Indus Valley Civilization.  However, it wasn’t until 5000 B.C. that descriptions related to dentistry and tooth decay were available.  At the time, a Sumerian text described tooth worms as causing dental decay, an idea that wasn’t proven false until the 1700s!

In ancient Greece, Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry, specifically about treating decaying teeth, but it wasn’t until 1530 that the first book entirely devoted to dentistry—The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth—was published.

By the 1700s, dentistry had become a more defined profession.  In 1723, Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon credited as the Father of Modern Dentistry, published his influential book, The Surgeon Dentist, a Treatise on Teeth, which for the first time defined a comprehensive system for caring for and treating teeth.  Additionally, Fauchard first introduced the idea of dental fillings and the use of dental prosthesis, and he identified that acids from sugar led to tooth decay.

In 1840, the first dental college (Baltimore College of Dental Surgery) opened, establishing the need for more oversight.  In the United States, Alabama led the way by enacting the first dental practice act in 1841, and nearly 20 years later, the American Dental Association (ADA) was formed. The first university-affiliated dental institution, the Harvard University Dental School, was founded in 1867.

By 1873, Colgate had mass produced the first toothpaste, and mass-produced toothbrushes followed a few years later.

Other Fun Teeth Facts

  • Hesy-Re was an Egyptian scribe who lived around 2600 B.C. and is recognized as the first dental practitioner.
  • Paul Revere, famous for warning Colonial troops that the British were coming, was also trained as a dentist by America’s first dentist, John Baker.
  • Edward H. Angle, who started the first school of orthodontics in 1901, created a simple classification for crooked teeth in the late 1800s, a system still in use today.
  • The first dental X-ray was used in 1896.


And from the Poetry Foundation– a poem:


For knowledge, says the Old Sage, add; for wisdom,
subtract. My head in a surgeon’s chair, checking
Lao Tsu’s math as these teeth I barely knew
I had (mumbled of as wisdom) introduced
themselves—rude party guests—right as they had
to go, their pinched goodbye-hello. Like learning
you’ve been speaking your whole life in prose,
or my late eighth-grade astonishment that I—
confirmed a Gentile in almost all respects—
had hung so long among the circumcised.

Hard to know what you have, I’ll have you know.
Harder to know what you haven’t. Knowledge! The nerve!
Hushed up like a gulp behind the tongue,
shrewdly shooting roots down at an age
my gums were smug from rolling words around,
when my morals (like my molars) proved
basically interchangeable. Wise
I wasn’t, but I wanted it so painfully then.
Now I’ve had it—you have it, doc. You know
the drill, or whatever you’ve got. Take it away . . .

So enough about teeth, are you ready to smile and share some poetry? As I said, I have an appointment and I’ll have to step away around 3:30 PM, but no worries- I’ll be reading more tomorrow!

Just a reminder:  OLN means you can post ONE poem of your choosing (no specified form, length, word prompt etc)
Also, we request you either TAG dVerse or include a line at the end of your post that includes a link back to dVerse.
Those of you new to dVerse, here’s how to participate:

  • Post any poem of your choosing on your blog or website.
  • Click on Mr. Linky below to add your name and enter the direct URL to your poem
  • On your blog, please provide a link back to dVerse. This enables others to enjoy our prompts, increases our readership and thus increases the responses to everyone’s poems. 
  • If you promote your poem on social media, use the tag #dverse poets
  • And most importantly, please do read some of the other responses to the prompt and add a short comment or reaction. Everyone likes to be appreciated! The prompt is “live” for several days – as you’ll notice by the comments you’ll receive – so do stop by another day and read a few of the latecomers too!