De Cura Dentium ad Sanitatem Proficua Halle, – 1752
Karl Gottlieb Stumpf (Carolus Gottlob Stumpff)
Translated: The health benefits of taking care of one’s teeth. Halle, 1752. Translated: The health benefits of taking care of one’s teeth.
This is a short, 42 page dissertation thesis by Karl G. Stumpff. The supervising faculty was Dr. Andrea Elias Büchner (1701-1769, see photo), professor and President of the Leopoldina, at the Imperial Academy of Natural Sciences in Halle. The thesis was defended on September 30, 1752.
Karl Stumpf, the defending student, was from the village of Landeshut, Silesia, today Kamienna Gora, southwestern Poland, about 250 miles from Halle. Even today, the small town has only 19,000 inhabitants. It is hard to imagine being more important in 1752. Landshut became the site of a major Prussian battle just eight years after the defense of this thesis.
The thesis starts with a section on the correct dental care (Recta dentium cura). Stumpff delineates two components: dentium cura (care of the teeth) and diaetae rationis (rational nutrition). In this chapter he quotes prior work of Bartholomeo Eustachio and Pierre Fauchard, but also the work of two lesser known authors: Nesbitt and Baster?. In the third chapter one can recognize the work of Malpighi, the 17th century Italian author and father of histology. Frederich Hoffmann, one of the greatest German surgeon’s work appears in chapter 14. This chapter describes the need to avoid consumption of sugar, a staple that made its way into the diet starting with the 16th century. Stumpff recommends: “sacchari sive cupediorum saccharatorum usu abstinendum est ne dentes exinde nigredinem et pressis vestigiis infecuturam cariosam contrahant corruptionem”. Loosely translated – “one should abstain from the use of sugar, or teeth become blackened and carious infection will corrupt the tooth”. It is quite a remarkable insight for 1752. In Chapter XXI he suggests using of a dentifrice to remove dental calculus.
Overall, it appears to be a meticulous and well written treatise on oral hygiene, a novelty for the period. Only one previous work of Robert Bunon (1702-1748), appeared in France in the 1743, Essay sur les maladies des dents, that specifically dealt with oral hygiene.