Churchill’s key ally was his dentist


Churchill’s key ally was his dentist because he feared his teeth problems would affect his public speaking
Last updated at 00:31am on 21st February 2008

Letters have revealed that Winston Churchill’s key ally was his dentist – as his biggest fear was losing his ability to speak because he had problems with his teeth.

Throughout his life, the statesman feared that problems with his teeth would affect his public speaking, one of his most powerful attributes.

So our country’s greatest ever Prime Minister enlisted the most acclaimed dentist of his generation – Sir Wilfred Fish.

Key ally: Churchill’s dentist Wilfred Fish ensured
the prime minister was happy with his teeth

Churchill roused the country to victory over Hitler with his stirring speeches – and it is thought that without the top-class dentist he wouldn’t have been on such fine form.

Churchill showed his appreciation when he sent Sir Wilfred a letter in January 1954, confirming his nomination for a knighthood.

Aged 79 at the time and in his final term as Prime Minister, Churchill also enclosed a set of his false teeth for repair.

He wrote: “I am very glad it fell to me to recommend you for a well-deserved honour.

“I enclose one set of dentures and I should be so much obliged if you would tighten them up a little for me. The others are working very well.”


Sir Wilfred designed Churchill’s false teeth, which were made by his dental technician Derek Cudlipp.

One of the spares kept by Cudlipp in case of emergency was donated to the Royal College of Surgeons Museum in London by his family.

“A spokesman said: “For Churchill, a well-fitting denture was a crucial physical and psychological prop.

“It allowed him to speak effectively – a vital attribute for any politician, and especially for one whose speaking skills were so central to his success.

“Throughout his adult life Churchill was haunted by the fear of losing his ability to speak.”

Churchill’s original dentures were made from hardened rubber, but he found them uncomfortable and often put them in his pocket.

Once he sat on them which prompted a hasty repair. But he had a second pair made, which this time had a larger palate which he found more comfortable.

The letters, which were written in 1952 and 1954 are thought to have never been seen before.

They are set to be auctioned by Bonhams in London on March 18 and are expected to fetch up to £1,400.

When Churchill was 16 and a public schoolboy at Harrow, his mother complained about how much money was being spent on his dental bills.

Later he suffered from pain in his gums and was tormented by toothache, which developed into an abscess and made his face swell to twice its normal size.

When he was in his teens he had a painful wisdom tooth extracted. He recorded that he went to sleep under anaesthetic and “snored through the whole performance”.

He went on to lose many of his front teeth in his 20s – prompting the need for an upper set of dentures.

He also suffered from a pronounced lisp, which later became a trademark that he wanted to preserve with soft fitting dentures.

Churchill would have brandy instead of mouthwash when he visited the dentist – and two cigars.

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