EU shipping is temporarily suspended

The Smile Stealers

The Fine and Foul Art of Dentistry

Richard Barnett


An incisive and startling international review of the evolution of dentistry from the Bronze Age to the present day, presented in a beautifully crafted book of cult appeal book

See Inside


This achingly jawdropping book follows the evolution of dentistry throughout the world from the Bronze Age to the present day, presenting captivating and grim illustrations of the tools and techniques of dentistry through the ages. Organized chronologically, The Smile Stealers interleaves beautiful and gruesome technical illustrations and paintings from the Wellcome Collection’s unique archive of material from Europe, America and the Far East with seven authoritative and eloquent themed articles from medical historian Richard Barnett. A comprehensive review of the development of the trade and discipline of dentistry, it covers topics as diverse as the very first dentures (produced by the Etruscans in the seventh century bce); the smile revolution in 18th-century portraiture; and the role of dentistry in forensic science – all in one beautifully illustrated volume.

Extending the cult of the medically macabre begun by its predecessors The Sick Rose and Crucial Interventions, The Smile Stealers is guaranteed to appeal to lovers of the horrific and the beautiful alike as it probes the growth of dentistry – from pulling out bad teeth to reconstructing jaws, and from painful action to pain-free interventions and the pursuit of the perfect smile.

Read More


'I love the thought of The Smile Stealers being casually left in dentists’ waiting rooms … It is gory, beautiful, probing'
The Times

'Magnificent … All human life is here – the pain, the suffering and the happiness summed up in the ecstasy of a toothsome smile'

Will Self, Guardian

'Thoroughly compelling'
Times Literary Supplement

Read More

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Quarterbound/PLC (no jacket)

Size: 24.0 x 16.8 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Publication date: 27 April 2017

ISBN: 9780500519110

Contents List

Introduction: You Know the Drill • 1. The Natural and Ancient History of the Teeth • 2. Pulling Teeth in Medieval Europe • 3. Fauchard and The Dentistes • 4. Enlightened Extractions • 5. ‘A New Era in Tooth-Pulling!’ • 6. The Skull Beneath the Skin • 7. The Smile of Success

About the Author

Richard Barnett studied medicine before becoming a historian. His writing has appeared in The Lancet, The London Magazine and The Natural Death Handbook. His first book, Medical London: City of Diseases, City of Cures, was published in 2008 and was a Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. His second book, The Sick Rose, published by Thames & Hudson, was the winner of The British Book Design and Production Awards. Richard has also appeared on BBC4's ‘The Beauty of Anatomy’. He is currently Director of studies in History, Pembroke-King’s Programme, University of Cambridge and Honorary Research Fellow, UCL.