The history of dentistry and medicine relationship: could the mouth finally return to the body?

Oral Dis. 2009 Nov;15(8):538-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2009.01589.x. Epub 2009 Jul 13.


The relationship between dentistry and medicine has been acknowledged throughout the history of humanity. This relationship was documented in ancient medicine accounts, and has survived until the present day, accompanied by the evolution of molecular technologies. Although we have had very important researchers' contributions in this interdisciplinary area, mainly after the 18th century, the knowledge on oral infections is still ignored by or unknown to the majority of clinical dentists and physicians. These circumstances could be changed through a broader divulgation of this complex relationship, both in the dentistry and in the medicine areas, which in turn would have a significant impact in systemic health worldwide. This movement has already started, as was observed in a World Health Assembly resolution which called for oral health to be integrated into chronic disease prevention programs in 2007. This was a significant indicator of changing perceptions of oral health over the past several decades. This brief review reports the evolution through time of the knowledge on the association between dental infections and systemic diseases, as well as the paths which we could take to consolidate this historical trend.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / complications*
  • Focal Infection, Dental / complications*
  • Focal Infection, Dental / microbiology
  • History of Dentistry*
  • History of Medicine
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Mouth Diseases / complications*
  • Mouth Diseases / microbiology
  • Sepsis / etiology*