L’art de conserver les dents - The art of preserving the teeth (1737).
Claude Geraudly (Claude Jacquier)
Claude Geraudly is a notable name in mid-18th century French dentistry. He was well known for his book “L’art de conserver les dents,” and for his various concoctions and remedies for oral afflictions. There is very little that we know about his life, except that he comes from a family of a barber and his real name was Claude Jacquier. His father was the barber of the Duke of Orleans (the brother of King Louis XV).
During the 18th century France dentists had income from practicing but also selling secretly formulated products. Geraudly had his secret mixture, “l’opiat,” which promised to whiten and clean teeth. With an increasing demand for beauty products to preserve one’s smile and whiten teeth, it was a time for exaggerated claims. Geraudly also offered an elixir which could be gargled, and was used to conserve the cleanliness of teeth, prevent pain, and dissipate the bad odors emanating from the mouth. During his career, Geraudly also spent time training students, including Mademoiselle Calais who is famous for being the only female dentist allowed to practice during a time when females were prohibited from doing such. It was only to Calais that he entrusted the secret recipe for his “opiat.” Geraudly died on October 14, 1753 in his colleague, Claude Mouton’s, house.
Claude Geraudly published his book “L’art de conserver les dents” (The Art of Conserving Teeth) in 1737 in Paris, in dedication to the Duke of Orleans. This 171-page work is written in French and divided into three parts: De la Physiologies des Dents (The Physiology of Teeth), Des Maladies des Dents (Diseases of the Teeth), and Des Moyen de Conserver les Dents en Bon État (Ways to Keep Teeth in Good Condition). Three editions were published, including a posthumous version in 1753 and a German translation in the same year. This book, published nine years after Pierre Fauchard’s “Le Chirurgien Dentiste,” draws on some Fauchard ideologies, and was considered a great success among Geraudly’s contemporaries. Geraudly writes that the purpose of this book is to provide knowledge to future dentists and tell families of available remedies.
A copy of “L’art de conserver les dents” is available at our NYUCD Rare Book Collection for viewing.
Based on research done by Susanna Wang, class of 2021 as part of their assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2017-2018, in part based on M. Ruel-Kellerman, https://www.biusante.parisdescartes.fr/histoire/medica/odontologie/geraudly.php. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.