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The Smile Stealers

The Fine and Foul Art of Dentistry

Richard Barnett


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Marking the third and final volume of the bestselling and award-winning series that began with The Sick Rose and Crucial Interventions, The Smile Stealers probes the evolution of dentistry from the excruciating endeavours of crude early practitioners to the swift and painless procedures and cosmetic surgery of today. Gruesome yet captivating medical drawings of techniques and tools are presented alongside pertinent cariactures, paintings and the rarest of books and artefacts from the Wellcome's unique archive. Eloquent and engaging themed articles by medical historian Richard Barnett trace the development of the trade and discipline of the dentist, from fairground entertainer and charlatan to highly skilled professional, and highlight the changing social attitudes towards the purpose and practice of dentistry, from the extraction of rotting teeth to the pursuit of the perfect smile.

Praise for The Smile Stealers

“Magnificent … All human life is here – the pain, the suffering and the happiness summed up in the ecstasy of a toothsome smile.”
“I love the thought of The Smile Stealers being casually left in dentists’ waiting rooms … It is gory, beautiful, probing.”
The Times

Richard Barnett

Richard Barnett is a writer, teacher and broadcaster on the cultural history of science and medicine, and a poet. He studied medicine in London before becoming a historian, and has taught at Cambridge, UCL, and other leading institutions for more than a decade. In 2011 he received one of the first Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowships for his work on public engagement.

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