Comfort, Confidence, and Control: Wearing and Caring for False Teeth in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain

Comfort, Confidence, and Control: Wearing and Caring for False Teeth in Mid-Twentieth Century Britain

Ms Georgia HaireZoom

Although they may be artificial, dentures require as much care as natural teeth do, and the removal of teeth does not end the user’s need to maintain their oral hygiene. This is perhaps unexpected, given the artificiality of dentures, as well as their status as somewhat ‘hidden’ protheses. Tooth-loss has also been heavily associated with bad hygiene, or a lack of proper care for one's teeth, and so dentures have often been framed as a departure from such health regimes, or as a way for unhygienic individuals to rid themselves of these commitments. This paper will examine the ways in which denture users cared for their false teeth, as well as the many different consumer products developed for such purposes in mid-twentieth century Britain. I will argue that the prominence of dentures in this period, as well as the rise of oral hygiene, impacted upon other areas of medical consumption, namely in the proliferation of denture hygiene products. The paper will also explore how these products, as well as the very materiality of false teeth, work to reinforce their invisibility as a medical prothesis.

University of Kent, UK
Fri 09:30 - 11:00
Disability
Standard paper