Dentistry and smiles in 18th century Paris


“In eighteenth-century Europe, tooth loss after a certain age was the norm.  It usually began before one’s forties and proceeded at a steady, unrelenting pace.  With teeth vanished good looks.  Capacity for speech suffered too, and talking transmuted into an affair of grunts and whistles.  Discomfort, inconvenience, problems with chewing food, chronic indigestion, halitosis, and facial disfigurement caused by the bad state of the mouth were the substance of everyday middle-aged life.” (Professor Colin Jones) 

By the end of his life Casanova was toothless and several times in his memoirs refers to toothless men and women including his earliest patron Malipiero who preferred to eat alone rather than in company as he ate so slowly.  Casanova recounts the story of an ancient Greek philosopher who died of laughter watching an old toothless woman attempting to eat figs.

In ‘The rise and fall of the smile in 18th-century Paris: A study in dentistry’, Professor of History, Colin Jones, gives a fascinating and highly entertaining insight into the emergence dentistry in Paris in the eighteenth century.  He notes: “Even the Italian roué Casanova, his charms failing and his teeth falling out, turned in desperation to Parisian dentures on the eve of the Revolution. The Parisian dentist really had arrived”.  The article can be found here.


‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is freely available here.

27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.


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