Ingenious and poignant

Written by
28th May 2018

An impressive array of dentally-related objects have been assembled for the exhibition and range from the horrifying to the hilarious, from  the precious to the poignant, from the ingenious to the invaluable. My favourite object is an aluminium denture (pictured) which was made for an RAF corporal in World War II. It’s both ingenious and poignant.

The corporal was interned in a Burmese prisoner of war (POW) camp where his acrylic dentures were smashed by prison guards.  Somehow, his fellow internees were able to make the replacement denture by pillaging debris from a fallen Japanese fighter plane.

They used wax from the lining of cabling to make an impression and then formed the aluminium denture from the impression. I wonder if any of those involved were dentally trained?

Meanwhile, there is a video in the exhibition which shows fabrication of a very different kind, a £18k Grillz made with diamonds. It’s created in a studio in London’s Hatton Garden to be worn over teeth, an embellishment favoured by rappers. I was also fascinated by the video of an interview with Phil Marsden, a forensic odontologist. His job is to identify the dead from their teeth.

The brilliance of the exhibition is  its range. It provides a background to the evolution of the dental profession over nearly 300 years and it combines artefacts, pictures and video. And children are encouraged to share their letters to the Tooth Fairy. If you have a treasured letter to the Tooth Fairy that you think is worth sharing as part of the exhibition, follow this link.

If you can, do go and see the exhibition before it closes on September 16th.



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