October 1, 2023

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Define Beauty Yourself

17th-century Frenchwoman’s ‘innovative’ gold dental work was likely torturous to her teeth

An aristocratic woman at the height of French society at the turn of the 17th century preserved her alluring smile by having her teeth secured with gold wires — a painful procedure that may have made her condition worse.

The remains of the woman, Anne d’Alègre, who lived from 1565 until 1619, were discovered during archaeological excavations in 1988 at the Chateau de Laval in northwestern France. She had been embalmed and then buried in a lead coffin, which meant that her bones — and her teeth — were remarkably well preserved.