The Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library that seeks to challenge how we all think and feel about health. This summer they have a special exhibition devoted to the great and occasionally grizzly practices of historic dentistry. If you find yourself with an hour or two to spare in central London this summer, then we recommend that you check out the exhibition “Teeth” at the Collection’s museum on Euston Road.
Over 150 Objects
Before modern dentistry, having a toothache was a seriously debilitating ordeal. The only treatment was extraction and without anaesthetic or antibiotics this was a painful procedure that could result in a life-threatening infection. Small wonder a whole host of superstitions and folk remedies were invented to deal with tooth trouble. The exhibition celebrates the practical – dentures and drills – and the whimsical – tooth fairies and protective amulets – approaches that our forebears took to oral health. There are over 150 objects in the exhibition.
Inspired by the Surprise Bestseller
Our patients take swift, painless procedures for granted. But dentistry wasn’t always so. Richard Barnett’s history of dentistry, The Smile Stealers, was a surprise bestseller this year. The exhibition was inspired by this book that was described in a review in The Times:
“Gory, beautiful, probing… reads like the production notes for the most upsetting horror movie ever made.”
Throughout the summer, there have been informal storytelling workshops – culminating in an evening with storytellers, Navreet Chawla and Dave Pickering, who’ll be ‘Telling the Tooth’ in an intimate discussion about all things dental in the Wellcome Café on 11th September 2018.
The exhibition runs until the 16th September 2018, view full details of the exhibition and associated events on the Wellcome Collection’s website.