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There's a whole exhibition about teeth opening next week

There's a whole exhibition about teeth opening next week
A red squirrel cleaning its teeth with Binaca tooth-cream, advertisement, 1944, courtesy of Wellcome Collection

Next week the Wellcome Collection opens its summer exhibition and this year it’s all about your pearly whites. So whether you keep the Tooth Fairy happy by flossing with enthusiasm, or stain them yellow with coffee and cigarettes, this exhibition will tell you all you need to know to keep on masticating.

Check out three of the toothsome objects you can see in the show:

Napoleon’s Toothbrush

Napoleon Bonaparte’s toothbrush, silver handle and horsehair bristles, 1790-1820, Wellcome Collection

Whilst debates rage over whether Napoleon really was short, no one (not even the English) has a bad word to say about his teeth. The silver-handled toothbrush with horsehair bristles used by Corsica’s most famous son is on display and it’s a bit fancier than the average offering from Oral-B.

Adverts for dental hygiene

Abram Games, Brush the Cobwebs Away poster, 1945, British Dental Association Museum, courtesy of Naomi Games

Advertising’s bad. It makes you buy things you don’t need. Like wine and fast cars. But sometimes its pervasive powers are put to good use, as with this attractive 1940s poster encouraging readers to give their gnashers a good scrubbing twice a day.

Dentist’s chair

Diamond no 2 dental chair, 1925-1935, Science Museum/ Science & Society Picture Library

If a trip to the dentist is your Room 101 nightmare, then you might do well to keep away from Euston Road this summer. Along with squeal-inducing dental equipment, there’s also this: the centrepiece of any torture chamber - sorry - dental surgery. Revive childhood fears gazing upon this uncomfortable-looking dental chair from the early 20th century.

Teeth is on at the Wellcome Collection from 17 May - 16 September. Find out more here.

 

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