Keith Richards at the Dentist

I’ve been reading Life, the fascinating autobiography of the Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards.  He gives a wonderfully chilling yet funny account of his early dental experiences in Great Britain.  Here is the quote in its entirety:

“I should have a badge for surviving the early National Service dentists.  The appointments were I think two a year – they had school inspections – and my mum had to drag me screaming to them.  She’d have to spend some hard-earned money to buy me something afterwards, because every time I went there was sheer hell.  No mercy.  ‘Shut up, kid.’  The red rubber apron, like an Edgar Allan Poe horror.  They had those very rickety machines in those days, ’49, ’50, belt-drive drills, electric-chair straps to hold you down.

“The dentist was an ex-army bloke. My teeth got ruined by it.  I developed a fear of going to the dentist with, by the mid-’70s, visible consequences – a mouthful of blackened teeth.  Gas is expensive, so you’d just get a whiff.  And also they got more for an extraction than for a filling.  So everything came out.  They would just yank it out, with the smallest whiff of gas, and you’d wake up halfway through an extraction; seeing that red rubber hose, that mask, you felt like you were a bomber pilot, except you had no bomber.  The red rubber mask and the man looming over you like Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man.  It was the only time I saw the devil, as I imagined.  I was dreaming, and I saw the three-pronged fork and he was laughing away, and I wake up and he’s going, ‘Stop squawking, boy.  I’ve got another twenty to do today.’  And all I got out of it was a dinky toy, a plastic gun.”  (Life, pages 28-29)

A terrific description of how it used to be, but thankfully is rare today.  Richards is a powerful writer.


keith richards teeth


Keith Richards


  • A patient came into the office today and said that he had read my blogpost and wanted to tell me that he was himself reading the Keith Richard’s biography. He was curious as to whether Richards had any teeth left or if he was wearing dentures. Needless to say, I was curious about this myself! I did look carefully at all of the photos in the book, checking out Richard’s dentition. I think he does have his front teeth but had crowns placed (not very good ones, at that). He is probably missing his back teeth – see how sunken in his cheeks look. Bad dental care but also poor lifestyle choices (drugs, alcohol, smoking: all bad for the teeth).

  • Dear Collegue,
    As big Keith richards fan and musician as well (Johnny M.the singing dentist i would highly be interested in the radiology status of Mister Riff. His missing molars you easily can see when he´singing and the crowns are not really beautiful according to modern cosmetic dentistry.And of course he´s got a parodontal problem due to his former lifestyle.No doubt about that! Who is his Dentist?
    Best regards from Austria/Europe
    Johnny M.
    M.D, D.M.D

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