The Forum

Adventures with dentures: The story of dentistry

Until the eighteenth century there were no professional dentists. The only way to deal with a serious case of toothache was to call on the services of blacksmiths, travelling showmen or so-called barber-surgeons, all of whom had a sideline in tooth extraction. But in 1728, French physician Pierre Fauchard published the first complete scientific description of dentistry and he is credited as being “the father of modern dentistry”. His book, Le Chirurgien Dentiste or The Surgeon Dentist, was translated into several languages.

Joining Rajan Datar to discuss the painful and sometimes gruesome history of humans and their teeth are Dr. Scott Swank of the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore, US; Rachel Bairsto, Head of Museum Services at the British Dental Association and Professor Dominik Gross of RWTH Aachen University in Germany.

[Image: Detail from Tearer of Teeth or The Tooth Puller by David Ryjckaert III (1612-1661). Credit: David Dyjckaert III / Buyenlarge / Getty Images]

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