Pierre Fauchard

Pierre Fauchard

Infobox Person
name=Pierre Fauchard

caption=French physician & father of modern dentistry
quotation=Father of modern dentistry
birth_date=circa, 1678
Brittany, France
death_date=death date|1761|3|22|mf=y | death_place=Paris, France
Pierre Fauchard (1678 – March 22 1761), was a significant French physician, he is credited to be the "father of modern dentistry". He is widely known for his book, "Le chirurgien dentiste", "The Surgeon Dentist" 1728, where he described the basic oral anatomy and function, signs and symptoms of oral pathology, operative methods for removing decay and restoring teeth, periodontal disease (pyorrhea), orthodontics, replacement of missing teeth, and tooth transplantation. His book is said to be the first complete scientific description of dentistry.Fauchard's text was followed by others that continued to expand the knowledge of the dental profession throughout Europe.


Early years

Fauchard was born in a very modest home in Brittany. In 1693 he joined the French Royal Navy at the age of 15, much to his family's distress, and came under the influence of Alexander Poteleret, a surgeon major, who had spent considerable time studying diseases of the teeth and mouth.

During that time, Fauchard learned that navymen personnel who were on long voyages suffered severely from dental ailments, scurvy in particular. Eventually Major Poteleret inspired and encouraged him to read and carefully investigate the findings of his predecessors in the healing arts. He said he wanted to disseminate the knowledge he learned all those years at sea based on actual practice. This idea led Fauchard to become a combat medic as Poteleret's protégé.

Life as youth dentist

Once Fauchard left the navy, he shortly settled down in Angers, where he practiced medicice at the University of Angers Hospital. In Angers, he started much of the revolutionary medical work we know today, and he was the pioneer of scientifical oral and maxillofacial surgery. Fauchard often described himself as a "Chirurgien Dentiste" (Surgical dentist) a term very rare at the time as dentists in the 17th century generally extracted decayed teeth rather than treating them.

Despite the limitations of the primitive surgical instruments during the late 17th and early 18th century, Fauchard was considered a highly skilled surgeon by many of their colleagues at Angers University Hospital. Fauchard made remarkable improvisations of dental instruments, often adapting tools from watch makers, jewelers and even barbers, that he thought could be used in dentistry.

Fauchard introduced dental fillings as treatment for dental cavities. He asserted that sugar derivate acids like tartaric acid were responsible for dental decay, and also suggested that tumors surrounding teethgum in later stages of tooth decay appeared as an effect of it.

Fauchard was the pioneer of dental prosthesis, and he discovered many methods to replace lost teeth. He suggested that substitutes could be made from carved blocks of ivory or bone and those artificially-made dental pieces would be useful as the natural ones. One of this methods stated that the artificial teeth would be held in place by tying them to the remaining solid teeth by pivots, using waxed thread or gold wire. Pierre also introduced dental braces, although they were initially made of gold, he discovered that the teeth position could be corrected as the teeth would follow the pattern of the wires. Waxed linen or silk threads were usually employed to fasten the braces.

From Angers to Paris and his revolutionary book

During 1716 to 1718, Pierre's career gained great prestige. During that time Fauchard spent long periods away from home studying and sharing his medical practice with other surgeons across France.

In 1718, Fauchard moved to Paris.During his staying in Paris, Pierre realized that many medical libraries lacked of good textbooks on dentistry and that an encyclopedia teaching book of oral surgery was needed, so he took the decision to write a professional dentist's treatise that could be based on his medical experience.

For many months Fauchard gathered many medical research books as he could, interviewed many dentists he met, and reviewed his personal dairies during his years at Angers to write his manual, finally in 1723, at the age of 45, he completed the manuscript for "Le Chirurgien Dentiste" (roughly translated as "The surgical dentist")". The manuscript was meticulously reviewed and the it was published in 1728 in two volumes. The book was well received in European medical community, an elarged edition in French language was published in 1746 and a German translation was available in 1773. The book was very advanced for its time and was considered to be the origin of scientific dentistry.

"The surgical dentist"

The book consisted of 38 chapters in volume 1 and 26 chapters in volume 2. Both volumes contained 42 plates depicting surgical instruments and appliances. Many of the ideas introduced in the book were totally new to dentistry.ref|plate


*Pierre suggested that the German tooth worm theory was mistaken in its explanation of dental decay. His observations through the microscope showed there was no evidence of worms.ref|worm
*Fauchard also said the cause of dental caries was sugar, and people should limit it from their daily food.ref|caries
*Pierre disproved theories of spontaneous tooth generation, arguing that the first teeth, which are called milk teeth, separate themselves from their roots. Some dentists at Fauchard's time believed they didn't have roots.ref|teeth
*Fauchard introduced dental fillings as treatment for dental cavities, and he suggested amalgams like lead, tin and sometimes gold. He also said that teeth should be cleaned periodically by a dentist.ref|amalgam
*Pierre said that braces should be used to correct the position of teeth, and that children's teeth could be moved more easily and quickly than adults'. He argued the cause was based on the size of the teeth roots.ref|roots
*Fauchard was ahead of his time in medical practice and he described the way how the patient should be greeted by the doctor and in what particular position the patient should sit.ref|sit
*Pierre recommended that the dentist should stand behind the patient to help them relax, and he introduced the concept of dentist's chair light.ref|avoid

Human urine as a medical treatment

Pierre Fauchard engraved on his books many of his inventions of many instruments made for oral surgery such as the obturator and the now famous dentist's drill. The drill Fauchard developed was manual and powered by a catgut twisted around a cylinder. He also suggested on his book that olive oil should be prescribed for cloves and cinnamon for pulpitis.ref|prescription

One of the ideas introduced by Pierre Fauchard that brought the attention of modern science historians was that Pierre recommended the use of human urineref|humanurine in the treatment of early stages of caries. A chemical compound that Pierre was not able to identify in urine at the time was ammonia, which was responsible of the "beneficial result" of urine. Although urine was used for this purpose since the ancient times to Middle Ages, the idea of use it for the treatment got the aversion of many physicians and patients as well.

Final days

On his book and during all his life Fauchard denounced how many patients were victims of quackery by dental charlatans. Pierre encouraged his students and friends that the highly injurious techniques used by charlatans should do not be taken seriously. He warned his medical readers that nitric acid and sulfuric acid on teeth to remove tartar used by charlatans are potentially dangerous and said how to identify their false dental fillings.ref|charlatan

Doctor Fauchard became a model for all dentists to come, he died at the age of 83 in Paris, France, on March 22 1761.


Fauchard's work influenced many youth medical minds in the age of enlightenment in France,
Robert Bunon (1702–1748) dentist like Pierre, spend many years of his life in the enamel hypoplasia research. ref|Bunon

Bourdet (1722–1789), whom is said to be one of the France's best dentists after Fauchard, based his work mainly on dental prosthesis (a concept introduced by Pierre), he also improved the way how the amalgams should be made and was the first physician to do gingivectomy on their patients when required.ref|Bourdet

The American 19th century dentist Chapin A. Harris often quoted him and said that "considering the circumstances and limitations of his time, he will always be remembered as a pioneer and founder of modern dentistry."ref|Chapin


*Although Doctor's Fauchard famous dental treatise on dentistry was published on the 18th century, it wasn't until the 20th century when Hilian Lindsay a medical science historian made a translation to English language.ref|Hilian

*Fauchard was considered one of the first physicians to denounce medical malpractice in dentistry. He alleged to a tribunal that many dentists in France didn't have a degree or experience.ref|malpractice


* German language Wikipedia: [http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Fauchard Pierre Fauchard] . Retrieved October 28, 2005.
* The Dental HiWay (Historical Overview) [http://www.sadanet.co.za/dhw/history/overview.html]
*cite web|url=http://www.fauchard.org/publications/remembrance.htm|title=The Pierre Fauchard Academy|accessdate=July 22|accessyear=2006|author=Monsieur Jean Claude de Vaux|last=de Vaux |first=Jean Claude|publisher=The French library of medicine|pages=1|language=English
*cite web|url=http://html.rincondelvago.com/practica-odontologica-en-la-francia-y-espana-del-siglo-xviii.html|title=Dentistry practice in Spain and France during the 18th century|accessdate=July 22|accessyear=2006|author=Spanish language quick reference desk|last=|first=|publisher=The free info's corner|pages=1|language=Spanish

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