There has been much speculation about the dental health of King Richard III since his remains were discovered under a car park in Leicester city centre earlier this year.
Analysis carried out by a London dentist Amit Rai found that the 15th century monarch ground his teeth, probably due to stress, and had suffered severe tooth decay, possibly as a result of his privileged position which made sugar more available to him, and a sweet tooth.
Amit Rai also found that the blows to the king’s skull which killed him were so strong that they pushed his crown (head-gear, not a dental crown) into his skull.
Other historical figures have had similar claims to dental fame including Winston Churchill’s partial dentures which were sold at auction in July 2010 for £15,200.
Churchill had terrible problems with his teeth and gums and required complicated dentistry from his childhood. In his wartime radio broadcasts, Churchill’s distinctive voice was instantly recognisable and he wanted it to stay that way, so he had his dentures designed specifically to preserve his lisp.
The delicacy and special design of the teeth were widely credited with helping Churchill speak clearly and effectively. He always ensured he had a spare set of dentures to hand in case he needed them in an emergency.
They were made by a young dental technician called Derek Cudlipp, whose work was so important to Churchill that the World War II prime minister would not let him join up and fight. In fact, when the technician’s call up papers came, Churchill personally tore them up. Churchill said that he would be more important to the war effort if he stayed in London to repair his dentures. And it seems they needed regular work. Churchill used to flick out his dentures when he was angry and throw them across the room. Mr Cudlipp used to say he could tell how the war was going by how far they flew!
Without them, ‘Fight them on the beaches’ would never have sounded the same.