The practice of dentistry in ancient Egypt

Br Dent J. 2009 May 9;206(9):481-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2009.355.


This paper addresses the questions of whether a dental profession existed in ancient Egypt and if it did then considers whether these practitioners were operative dental surgeons as we know them today or whether they were pharmacists. Evidence from hieroglyphic inscriptions, from the dentitions of the surviving mummified and skeletal remains, and from ancient documents and artefacts are examined. The conclusion would suggest that operative dental treatment if it did exist at all was extremely limited. The dental treatment that appears to have been provided was mainly restricted to pharmaceutical preparations that were either applied to the gingival and mucosal tissues or used as mouthwashes, and these at best may only have provided some short term relief. It seems apparent that many ancient Egyptians suffered from widespread and painful dental disease, which the available treatments can have done relatively little to alleviate.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Ancient Lands
  • Egypt, Ancient
  • History of Dentistry*
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations, Dental / history
  • Tooth Diseases / history


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations, Dental