Although you probably wouldn’t consider second hand dentures to have a significant value it really does depend on the provenance. Last month, a set of gold-plated false teeth belonging to Winston Churchill left the guide prices standing and sold for £15,200 at an auction in Norfolk.
Churchill used to flick his teeth out in irritation
According to the seller (whose father had made the teeth) they were specially designed to avoid changing the instantaneously recognisable voice characteristics of one of the country’s greatest orators. The false teeth also acted as a stress relief measure as he flicked them out whenever the tide of war turned against Britain.
George Washington had a plate of hippopotamus ivory
Churchill wasn’t the only eminent leader to wear dentures. Most people will be aware that George Washington sported a full set of false teeth although it’s a myth that they were made from wood. In fact, Washington’s teeth were a technical marvel of the time, fabricated from a plate of hippopotamus ivory which was fitted with a mixture of human and donkey teeth.
These days, thankfully things have moved on. False teeth and dentures are required much less due to improvements in oral health and a general awareness of the importance of brushing twice a day, along with regular visits to the dentist. Whilst the level of extractions (particularly in children) is still unacceptably high the focus of most aesthetic dental work has now shifted to other areas.
Orthodontics is a great example of how specialists work with existing teeth to straighten and align them to improve the bite, reduce the chance of damage to prominent teeth and improve the overall appearance, particularly the smile.
Veneers are another common treatment that work with existing teeth that have become stained or are uneven. The thin covering, made from a polymer compound or porcelain creates an even natural look, without the need for surgery.
It’s worth bearing in mind that whilst Churchill teeth now have an undisputedly high value, maintaining your own teeth and keeping that original smile is priceless.