Edge browser users:
To download Word, Excel or PowerPoint files please right-click on the file you wish to download, and select 'Save link as...'

Waterloo teeth

The BDA Museum has several sets of 'Waterloo' teeth in its collection - some of these are teeth taken from dead soldiers after the Battle of Waterloo, which were made into dentures.


Replacement teeth were traditionally made from ivory (hippopotamus, walrus or elephant).


However such teeth did not always look natural and deteriorated more quickly than real teeth. If you wanted a really nice set of dentures these were made with an ivory base and then set with real human teeth.


These were expensive as it could take six weeks to make a complete set. They have subsequently become known as 'Waterloo teeth', as some were scavenged from dead soldiers on battlefields.


Others were taken by resurrectionists who dug up corpses, a lucrative business.


Of course contamination was an issue with the only method of sterilising being boiling water.


Although this practice was more common in the earlier nineteenth century, Waterloo teeth were still appearing in dental supply catalogues of the 1860s, shipped across in barrels from the American Civil War.

BDA Museum: dental heritage

The BDA Museum has one of the largest collections of dental heritage in the UK. Spanning the 17th century to the present day, highlights of the collection include dental chairs, drills, oral hygiene products, and the infamous 'Waterloo' teeth. Pop in and see for yourself!