Throwback Thursday is taking it back to 1965 when the official emblem of dentistry was adopted by the American Dental Association. The origin of the symbol dates back to ancient times however – from the snake wrapped around a physician’s staff to the circle and triangle which are Greek letters.
Let’s start with the meaning of the snake. The Greek god Asclepius is represented by a snake because it was believed that he turned into a snake and slithered around the land to heal people who suffered from the Roman plague. Because of this, Greeks would use non-venomous snakes in their healing rituals. They would even let the snakes slither around the floor of where injured or sick people slept. Further, the shedding of the snakes skin symbolized healing, rejuvenation, and rebirth in Greek times. The Greek god Asclepius also had children; Hygieia, whose name the word “hygiene” is derived, and Panaceia, from where the word “panacea” came, meaning a “cure-all or universal remedy.”
The circle and triangle in the emblem are Greek letters that are intersecting each other. The O (omicron) represents “odont” meaning tooth in Greek. The triangle (delta) represents the letter D for dentistry.
The leaves and berries represent the amount of teeth in the primary and permanent dentition. There are 32 leaves for the permanent dentition and 20 berries representing the primary.
Finally, the lilac color is the official color of dentistry. It was chosen as such in 1897 by the National Association of Dental Faculties.