Johann Jakob Joseph Serre (1759-1830)
Geschichte oder Abhandlung der Zahnschmerzen des schönen Geschlechts in ihrer Schwangerschaft, 1788
Abhandlung Über Die Flüsse Und Entzündungen, Von Denen Die Geschwulsten Oder Zahnfleischgeschwüre Herrühre 1791
Praktische darstellung aller Operationen der Zahnarzneikunst, 1804.
Johann Jakob Joseph Serre was born in 1759 in Mons, Belgium. Under the influence of his surgeon father, Johann completed his medical/dental training in Universe of Vienna in 1781. Serre became a respected expert in the field of dentistry becoming a member of surgical Academy of Metz and a member of the medical faculty in Vienna. In 1803 he moved to Berlin where assumed the title of court dentist.
Serre wrote a total of three textbooks. He published his first book in 1788, the volume in our collection, entitled Geschichte oder Abhandlung der Zahnschmerzen des schönen Geschlechts in ihrer Schwangerschaft (History or treatise on toothache in the fair sex during pregnancy). He refuted the idea that women should not extract tooth during pregnancy. Serre touched upon patient management and preventive treatment in this book. He suggested the use of wine vinegar, or cold water to reduce anxiety and pain. Serre believed in a personalized treatment plan designed for each individual’s need. He also promoted cleaning one’s teeth to prevent decays. He emphasized the importance of tooth to systemic health. Serre inevitably perpetuated some misconceptions common in his time. For instance he suggested blood-letting was the best way to treat tooth inflammation because he believed toothache was caused by accumulated blood in the swollen vessel. Incidentally, bloodletting was still performed at the highest level. President George Washington died in 1799 because of two of his physicians bled him to death trying to cure a sore throat…
His second work published in 1791 was entitled Abhandlung Über Die Flüsse Und Entzündungen, Von Denen Die Geschwulsten Oder Zahnfleischgeschwüre Herrühre or The treatise of the effusion and inflammations from which arise swelling or ulcers of the gum, in which he disagreed with the traditional idea that extraction of inflamed tooth can cause serious illness and explained that tooth should be extracted to treat the inflammation.
His principal work published in 1804 is Praktische darstellung aller Operationen der Zahnarzneikunst (Presentation of all operations of dentistry). This book, dedicated to Tzar Alexander I of Russia, illustrated arts of dental practices with 32 beautifully-done copperplate works. It was very much praised by his peers.
His final work, published in 1809, is a short study entitled: Taglich Vorsichtsmassregeln die Zahne und das zahnfleisch stes rein und gesund zu halten (Daily precautions for keeping the teeth and gums clean and healthy). The work in our collection is an 1812 Polish translation.
Based in part on research done by Paul Xu, class of 2022 as part of his assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2018-2019. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.
- Geschichte oder Abhandlung der Zahnschmerzen des schönen Geschlechts in ihrer Schwangerschaft, 1788 >>>
- Abhandlung Über Die Flüsse Und Entzündungen, Von Denen Die Geschwulsten Oder Zahnfleischgeschwüre Herrühre 1791 >>>
- Praktische darstellung aller Operationen der Zahnarzneikunst, 1804. Link: (TBD)
- Codzienne Przestrogi dla zyczacych sobie zebyi dziasla zawize czyste i zdrowe zachowae (Polish) (Daily precautions for keeping the teeth clean and healthy) 1812.