A Treatise on The Teeth

A Treatise on The Teeth




A. Tolver


Where does A. Tolver's book fit in the history of dental literature in the English language. The first publication in English belongs to Charles Allen, 1685. Forty three years later Pierre Fauchard's seminal book, Le Chirurgien Dentist is published in 1728 and a second edition in 1746. What Fauchard unleashed was quite remarkable on the European side of the Channel. But the book was not translated into English for over 200 years. So, authors like A Tolver were unaware of it. There were, however, a number of German authors like Frederick Hoffmann, considered the "Second Hippocrates" whose extensive work was available in translations. Tolver, most likely decided to translate Hoffman's A Treatise on Teeth from Latin to English, in 1752, the same year he was working on his own, identically entitled, but different book.

We know very little about A. Tolver's life except that he was a London dentist at the time this book was published in 1752. His book did not see additional editions. More important dentists of the time, such as Thomas Berdmore, dentist to King George III, published, A treatise on the disorders and deformities of the teeth and gums. 1768 (in our collection).

A Treatise on The Teeth in 1752. Tolver's book is remarkable about how out of touch his conclusions were, considering that across the Channel far more elaborate and detailed knowledge was already available. For instance, Tolver believed that humans have 36 teeth, with women having fewer, that molars had four roots, teeth completely erupted between 25-40 of age and that the cause of decay was the tooth worms. Unlike the German texts written in Gothic prints, the Latin texts of Frederick Hoffmann, Tolver’s book is relatively easy to read.
Based in part on research done by Khadijah Cheema, class of 2021 as part of her assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2017-2018. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.

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A Treatise on The Teeth (1752) >>>