With so many quirky and unusual museums in London, few come close to giving as comprehensive a picture of the development of one specific profession as the London Dental Museum.
Run by the British Dental Association (BDA), the London Dental Museum will educate and give you a much greater understanding of the development in dentistry, and with 25,000 items in the care of the museum (alongside new items being added regularly) it is a fitting testament to the men and women who have attended to our teeth over the years.
So what can you expect to see at the London Dental Museum?
Dentistry Through the Ages
One of the biggest attractions of the London Dental Museum is that it is large enough to cover the industry comprehensively, yet remains a small museum with a dedicated and knowledgeable team of staff who are on hand to enlighten visitors further about the many exhibits.
Furthermore, it’s not just a staid and simple display of machinery and dental equipment, but also delves into the subject of dental care at home, and how techniques have improved over the years, as well as including a wide range of exhibits in the area of dental art.
Carefully curated to present a history of dentistry that’s of interest to both professionals and the general public, the BDA has exceeded expectations of dentists around the world by putting together what is deemed one of the most important dentistry collections in the UK, if not the world.
Of particular interest to students of dentistry is the comprehensive collection of anatomical models, which chart the way that dentistry has been viewed across the decades.
Used predominantly for teaching purposes, many of the earlier models are an eye-opening introduction into the world of biology in those early days.
Dentistry in Art
It may not strike you as an obvious selection of exhibits in a dentistry museum, but the London Dentistry Museum owns and exhibits an eclectic and interesting collection of art, which runs through the ages.
For the members of the public that fear the dentist’s chair you’ll find many of the artworks are comic or satirical in theme. Humour is found to be the leading theme in the art collection, yet even these items managed to be of use in the education side of the dentistry field.
With a wide variety of engravings, drawings, paintings and the ubiquitous cartoons depicting hellish experiences, this is a very important collection of art that is unlike any other and well worth visiting the museum for alone of art is your thing.
Through the Ages
Being a dental museum, the emphasis is on how this area of medicine has developed through the ages across the world. Modern dentistry techniques and routines involve some very impressive and advanced equipment – and a visit to the museum will emphasise to you just how different things are today.
Even 100 years ago (a relatively short time on the scale) the implements that were used at home were primitive and not overly effective. Those used in surgery were not much more advanced and had their roots are predominantly from the Victorian era.
The London Dental Museum includes a vast array of home and surgery dental tools – some of which are quite alarming when you consider the equipment used today, but it is a genuinely fascinating collection that has been carefully curated to educate, inform and amuse.
Dentures and Teeth
False teeth are taken for granted nowadays, and you can have fitted teeth that are as real as your original that are not in the least bit noticeable. Naturally, this was not always the case.
Indeed, one of the more interesting of the many exhibits covering teeth and dentures through the ages is a tooth from the Mayan people of South America, believed to date back more than 2000 years, this remarkable artifact shows how advanced the Mayans were for their time.
Other exhibits cover the development of false teeth and dentures in the Western World. Many examples of teeth known as ‘Waterloo Teeth’ are kept at the museum, these taking their name from teeth salvaged from dead soldiers at the Battle of Waterloo, as they were expensive to buy in the era.
Visiting the Museum
If you are already familiar with the major London museums and galleries and are looking for something both educational and quirky, the London Dental Museum should certainly be high on your list of places to visit.