Austin Family Dentists: Famous Dentist- Pierre Fauchard
There are many people that change the face dentistry as we know it. Some are more famous for other exploits while being associated with dentistry. Others have changed the face of dentistry as we known it. Today’s famous dentist is the latter. He is called “the father of modern dentistry”. Which indicates how much impact he has on the field, if you think about it. So, in honor of modern dentistry and recognition of the steps it takes to get there we will cover Pierre Fauchard. So, we dentists in Austin, Texas will cover him today as one of our famous dentists.
Dentistry Before Fauchard
Until the 1700s, dentistry, as we know it today, wasn’t a field of study. If anything it was treated as just another ailment for doctors to solve. There were other records regarding tooth diseases and the treatment of them in both Ancient Greece, Sumera and parts of India. These diseases, when covered in writing, are usually a small part of an entire medical book series written by a single expert. They would serve as a footnote to something greater, so there was no special attention made by these predecessors about how teeth worked. They would just assume a worm was in it and go on their merry way. So, what changed in the 1700s? What circumstances were in place to allow dentistry to thrive?
First was the invention of the printing press. It was first developed in the 15th century and had a few hundred years to solidify its popularity in both Eastern and Western Europe. This created an easier exchange of information across the board. This created the perfect conditions for German author Artzney Buechlein to publish a book in 1530, titled The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth.
Second was the barber/surgeons. The only people who were possibly qualified to perform medical care were monks. But, thanks to an Old Testament scripture, they could not extract teeth. To do so was heresy. So, barber surgeons, or proto dentists, assisted these monks and grew into their own specialized form of oral surgery. This, combined with the first circumstance made a perfect foundation for Fauchard to invent dentistry.
The Life of Pierre Fauchard
Pierre was a Frenchman born in the late 1600s who joined the French Navy at age 15. He picked up the surgeon barber trade under his mentor, Alexander Poteleret, the ship’s doctor who had a passion for ancient medical texts. He, along with sailors who underwent scurvy after being away at sea, inspired and encouraged Fauchard to follow his passion. Fauchard would leave the navy to study in the University of Angers Hospital in Angers, France. There he became a highly skilled surgeon who made a lot of modern day discoveries that we take for granted.
- For starters, he discovered how the acids of sugars (which we now know are biofilm from periodontal bacteria that feed on sugar) would cause tooth enamel to dissolve.
- He also disproved spontaneous tooth generation and discovered the concept of “milk teeth” or baby teeth.
- He introduced the concept of braces to correct tooth alignment.
- Also, he introduced the concept of tooth fillings as a treatment for cavities.
- And, he also was the first to address the concept of patient anxiety.
He was even responsible for writing his own book series on his findings. According to Xavier DelTombe, “The first 23 chapters of tome 1 of this work deal with the anatomy of the teeth, oral hygiene, maladies of the teeth and the gingiva, and the ergonomics for the delivery of dental care. Next, in chapters 24 to 38 Fauchard presented the clinical observations he had made in 20 years of practice. He discussed operative techniques in chapters 1 to 7 of tome 2, orthodontics and surgery in chapters 8 to 12, and prosthetic techniques in chapters 13 to 26.”
The End of Pierre and the Beginning of Dentists
It’s no wonder why dentists in Austin, Texas and the rest of the world credit him as the father of modern dentistry. All because he found something he was passionate about.
In his final days, Pierre spent his life denouncing other dentists and doctors who exploited their patients. While there was certainly a guild for barber surgeons and dentists, there was no degree necessecarry to practice. This meant that anyone could claim that they were an expert and perform malpractice. Pierre, with his attitude of enlightenment and reason, argued that there should be standards set for medicine. And since then, after a few bumps on the road, we started to talk about the importance of dental care.
Without Pierre Fauchard, we would not have made the leaps and bounds as todays modern dentists. He is an inspiration and reminds dentists everywhere to question and observe what you are looking at.