Odontologia. Ossia. Trattato sopra i denti (Odontology. Bone. A study on teeth) 1786
Published: 1786 in Florence, Italy
Antonio Campani comes from a family of dentists. His father placed him into an apprenticeship for dentistry as soon as the young Antonio left school. This in turn, may have led to Campani’s decision of enlisting into the army at the age of twenty. Following his service, he was ordered to Poland and Moravia (Czech Republic) to fight the Germans. After being wounded in this war, he returned to Florence in 1767, where the late professor Larini had recently vacated the seat for Public Dentist of the City of Florence. The Grand Duke Francis I named Campani as the replacement.
In his book, Trattato sopra i denti, Campani first describes the qualities necessary for a dentist to be successful: “giovine di spirit, e pieno di coraggio… che abbia il cuor pietoso e la mano crudele.” young man of spirit, full of courage, with a compassionate heart but a cruel hand (p.1). He also emphasized that a dentist must know everything by heart that concerns dentistry, in order to be able to answer any question like an intelligent professor, rather than an ignorant charlatan.
Next, he describes the than accepted knowledge about tooth development, cause of decay and treatment. He describes plaque as being fluids that are constantly circulating the roots of teeth, which under the influence of hot and cold, condense and coagulate to decompose and soften the enamel (dall’ impression del caldo, e del freddo, per tale impression si congelano I fluidi che circolano continuamente nelle radiche dei denti ond’e che essi vengano appoco a scompenersi… p.35) The main treatments for decay discussed were filing down the tooth and also plugging the cavity with lead-foil. A significant portion of the text was dedicated to extractions and Campani meticulously described which teeth can be easily removed and which teeth are better left alone. The volume concludes with a few chapters on prosthetic dentistry. In the late 1700’s, the artificial teeth were made with ivory and tied together with catgut or silk. Campani also described the use of springs to clasp bridges or dentures to neighboring teeth.
The 300+ page book concludes with 36 engraved illustrations, many of them seen in publications of the time, including Pierre Fauchard’s. Notwithstanding its lack of originality, the book is very elegant and was a success in Florence at the end of the 18th century.
Based in part on research done by Kevin Flores, class of 2022 as part of her assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2018-2019. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.