Portrayals of Dentistry in the 17th Century
I had the privilege to get a chipped filling extracted from my gingiva and to have the filling re-done earlier today, in a process that was about as fun as, well, getting an enamel chip dug out of your gums and then getting a large filling right over the seriously-inflamed gumline.
Of course, as much as I piss and moan about how much it hurt, my pain is nothing compared to people in the 17th century. Well, at least according to the artists of the era. There seems to have been a particular interest in the pain inflicted by the dentists and barber-surgeons of the time, and the fascination of the people around the “patient” in the apparent misery they’re going through.
Dentists were largely seen as below barber-surgeons until the very late 1600s-early 1700s, when one Pierre Fauchard took massive steps towards legitimization of the profession.
Top: “The Dentist” Gerard van Honthorst, 1622.
Center Left: “The Quackdoctor” Jan Steen, 1651.
Center Right: “The Extraction of Tooth” Gerard Dou, ca. 1630-1635.
Bottom: “The Toothpuller” Caravaggio (probable), ca. 1608-1610.
I hate going to the dentist. I actually have an appointment tomorrow :(