De Dentium Podagra
Johann Stephan Strobelberger
Johann Stephan Strobelberger (1593-1630) was an Austrian physician. His book De Dentium Podagra, translates from Latin as "tooth gout" or "foot ache of the tooth." Strobelberger believed it was the duty of the physician, not the dentispices (tooth drawers) to find the cure for dental pain. This book provides a window on seventeenth century dental practice and knowledge.
Strobelberger studied in Montpellier, France, after which he was appointed in Prague to the court of Ferdinand II (1618-1637), Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia. Subsequently he later become a balneotherapist, a doctor of medicinal bath in the Bohemian town of Karlovy Vary, a town that still has a functioning spa founded in the fourteenth century by the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, Charles IV. The hot springs and mineral waters at Karlovy Vary were believed to have therapeutic and curative effects. Initially, for therapeutic purposes the spa waters were used only externally for bathing. With the arrival of Strolbelberger, he recommended to drink it as well. Strolbeberger suggested drinking 50-70 cups of the thermal water daily.
In De Dentium Podagra, Strobelberger, a firm believer in "tooth worm theory", claimed that the mineral water in Karlovy Vary had a healing effect on teeth. He thought that the cause of dental decay and gum disease were small, worm-like creatures and recommended using oil of vitriol (pure sulfuric acid) or decoction of frog cooked in vinegar and water. For "strengthening gums, preventing putrefactive processes, and of calming toothaches" he recommended smoking or using tobacco as a mouthwash. In his view tobacco increased the salivary and mucosal flow (true, our note) to eliminate the morbid humors that caused pain. Although De Dentium Podagra must be viewed in the context of the knowledge of his time, Strobelberger’s book showcases a desire to help those suffering and the division within medicine and dentistry.
(Based on research done by Julia Kohler class of 2021 as part of her assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2017-2018. Edited by Ronna Abayev – Class of 2021.)
Digital Version (1630 edition)