The last bite (May)

09 May 2022
2 min read

DIY dentistry
We read a lot nowadays about DIY dentistry, with ghastly stories about self-extractions and other less gory but cringe-worthy tales of attempts at tooth whitening using anything from crushed strawberries to undiluted bleach. I wonder whether we might be missing a trick here. There is an old saying that a poacher turned gamekeeper is apt to be successful. Indeed, it is a thought process keenly followed in IT and tech industries where big companies seek to engage and employ hackers and other would-be attackers by utilising their knowledge and techniques. So, what about a new category of GDC registrants - suitably trained of course – the DiYDCPs?

Urban archaeology
A new brand of investigative journalism has started to appear on television, YouTube and social media in which people discover and film abandoned premises in a wide variety of circumstances and situations. Giant industrial plants in the jungle, huge mining complexes in the middle of nowhere and deserted railway depots with treasured old loco parts, all feature.

Not to be outdone, we can now add dentistry to the list - as an ‘urban explorer’ has uncovered an abandoned dental clinic in Birmingham (Alabama, USA) complete with decades-old denture casts and clinical instruments. Apparently, the owner retired, locked the door and never returned. One photo shows a display of casts from patients’ mouths, gathering dust and cobwebs as they lay undisturbed on a shelf. The practice was abandoned in the early 2000s and in the years that followed parts of the roof began to collapse leaving the building in a state of disrepair. With NHS dentistry in such a terrible state, in England in particular, one can’t help but wonder if in 2042 a similar discovery will be made in Birmingham (West Midlands, UK).

Earlier still
Analysis of tooth enamel has provided information about the locale where people from the 6th century might have grown up. Maybe not so surprising in itself, but the remains in question were found in the latrine of a Roman bath house near Edinburgh, of people who may have come from the other side of medieval Scotland. Bioarchaeological work led by the University of Aberdeen has found that some of the group might have travelled across Scotland to make the Cramond area their home. The researchers examined the bones and teeth of the dead, known as ‘the bodies in the bog’, and used isotope analyses to look at the adults’ diet and origins.

The senior author of the study said they were surprised to find that despite being buried close to each other, leading to an assumption that they were a single family, some were brought up hundreds of miles apart. There are various theories about why the ancient Scots might have travelled so far from their roots but one wag suggested that the reason, far from being tribal or religious in nature, was perhaps that they were all journeying so far in search of NHS dental treatment.