The 20th century saw an explosion of new materials, techniques and technology in dentistry, Novocaine was introduced early in the 1900's as a local anaesthetic by a German chemist, Alfred Einhorn. The use of local anaesthetics during dental procedures did much to change the public's attitude towards dentistry.
The early 20th century brought along a better understanding of dental disease and prevention. In 1900, few people could afford regular dental treatment and many had dentures at an early age. Dental disease in the general population was widespread. By 1907 the British School Dental Service, opened the first UK children's clinic. Toothbrush clubs operated in London schools, and toothbrushes were issued to all serving men during World War I, which extended their use into working class families for the first time.
During the later half of the 20th century dental health in the developed world improved dramatically and visits to the dentist eventually became a normal part of everyday life. Fluoride toothpaste was first marketed around 1959 and by 1990, the majority of toothpaste sold contained fluoride. During this time, children's dental caries were reduced by half.
Developments in twentieth century dental treatment were made possible by amazing technological improvements in dental equipment. A new era was opened up with the discovery, by Rontgen, of x-rays and their application to dentistry at the turn of the century. It had an enormous impact on dental diagnosis, by showing what lay beneath the surface of a tooth.