Traité d'odontalgie

Traité d'odontalgie (1771)

Pierre Auzébi (Auzeby)


Born in Nimes in 1736, Pierre Auzebi is one of the first to grow up in the new era opened by Pierre Fauchard’s Le Chirurgien Dentist. Trained in surgery in Toulouse, Bordeaux and in Paris, among many that included the famous Mouton, dentist to the King, and author of the first text on prosthodontics, Auzebi qualifies for the title of expert (specialist) in dentistry in Lyon on February 10, 1763 at the age of 27. He develops a reputation while practicing in Lyon, a trade center of about 150,000 inhabitants at the time. Eight years later, in 1771 he publishes his volume on toothache that is in our collection.

Similar to many books published at the time, this work is approved (Approbation) by several important individuals and entities. First the leading physicians and surgeons of the "Hotel Dieu Hospital in the city of Lyon", collectively sign off on this important work. Next, the Royal Censure, Mr. Lebas and members of the Royal Counsel, Mr. Lebegue and J Herrisant support the publication of Auzebi's work. In this book, Auzebi, similar to Fauchard calls himself "Chirurgien Dentist".

Traité d'odontalgie, or A Study of Toothache is a 167 page, small format book has no illustrations and represents no particular breakthrough in advancing knowledge even for that time. The book has eight chapters. The first discusses the anatomy of the mouth. He considers teeth as a form of bone that develop differently from other bones. Auzebi's ideas completely contradicted knowledge on tooth development in the scientific community of the time. Auzebi compared the human body to a "hydraulic machine, formed by the union solid and liquid parts,". To him, bones were composed of folded membranes, while teeth were simply bones with smaller membranes. Additionally, bone developed at the same time, while teeth grew in succession.

A further difference Auzebi describes is the response to decay. Bones repair, teeth do not.

Discussing primary teeth, Auzebi claimed that the primary teeth lacked roots, contrary to popular belief. With the exceptions of deciduous teeth with roots, Auzebi stated that these teeth were not shed and continued with the child into adulthood. Primary teeth, he explained, were weaker and thus more susceptible to falling out; Auzebi’s theories on the formation of teeth were supported by observing the teeth of dead animals, a source of his errors.

Auzebi believed that caries originated from an imbalance of moods, a classic theory at the time. Like many of his colleagues, he invented an anti-scorbutic balm, a liquor to promote teeth falling out, and a sedative elixir to be used against decay by direct application to the teeth. These were fashionable at the time and were sold through his practice. This study recommended managing dental decay by removing the carious portion with an instrument and closing the cavity with gold-leaf or lead.

In the year 1795, Auzebi announced that his health was deteriorating. His exact date of death is unknown, but it is estimated to be around 1798-1799.

Based in part on research done by Rebecca Sirota, class of 2022 as part of their assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2017-2018. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.

Digital Versions

Traité d'odontalgie (1771) >>>