The production of dental rubber for the manufacture of plates for dentures was a success after much experimentation. A fire extinguisher was converted into a still to produce rubber oil from rubber scrap. Dental rubber was treated with this oil to make it pliable. This process can be seen on the above painting, as well as a ‘before and after’ snap shot of a POW without teeth and then with dentures after some manipulation in the dentist chair.
This image of Des Bettany’s artwork has been reproduced with permission from the book ‘Don’t Ever Again Say “It Can’t Be Done”’ published by The Changi Museum, Singapore.
A local GP reports that the Japanese guards also forced the allied dentists to remove a build up of brown tartar on their teeth. He said they would then coated the guards teeth with a ‘protective layer’ of amebic dysentery!! This left them with white teeth but feeling extremely unwell.
‘Most men, at the beginning of their captivity, took one look at the diet of slops and glue and decided that inevitably – and quite soon – all their teeth must fallout. ‘This’, they said, ‘is uncivilised: it is unhygienic – and is most unfortunate,’ and without further ado they resigned themselves to a toothless middle age.
Some idea of the tireless research that went on in the dental department can be gained when on realises that beehives were ruthlessly robbed for wax, crashed planes were stripped for synthetic resin on the cockpit, mosquito cream was stolen for lamps and the cellophane off cigarettes sent by the Red Cross was thriftily collected to be used as a finish for the inside of dentures. To the mechanics and dentists of Changi we owe a great deal.’
Source: Unknown Author, ‘Dental’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg. 275, 278