The Smile Stealers

The fine and foul art of dentistry

Richard Barnett

Book cover of The Smile Stealers by Richard Barnett


Will Self, London Review of Books

Marking the third and final volume of the best-selling 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.

MORE: Read an extract from 'The Smile Stealers'

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 Collection archive. Eloquent and engaging 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 – highlighting the changing social attitudes towards the purpose and practice of dentistry: from the extraction of rotting teeth to the pursuit of the perfect smile.

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About the author

Photograph of Richard Barnett

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.