John Lennon’s tooth drives mouth cancer awareness in the UK

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John Lennon’s tooth drives mouth cancer awareness in the UK


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The John Lennon DNA pendant tours almost dental practices to promote mouth cancer screening. (Photo courtesy of Dr Michael Zuk)
Dental Tribune International

By Dental Tribune International

Wed. 7 November 2012


LONDON – A year after being sold at an auction, one of John Lennon’s molars is touring almost 20 UK dental practices in order to raise mouth cancer awareness among the public. Patients who come to the dentists’ offices can try on a necklace designed using the Beatle’s DNA, which was extracted from small parts of the tooth, and receive free mouth cancer screening.

After purchasing the tooth about one year ago, Dr Michael Zuk, Canadian dentist and blogger for Dental Tribune ONLINE, partnered with the celebrity jeweller Ari Soffer to design three John Lennon DNA pendants valued at US$25,000 (€20,000) each. Recently, one pendant was sent to a group of dentists in the UK who are offering free mouth cancer screening.

“If John Lennon were alive today, there is a good chance he would be in the high-risk group for mouth cancer. Just like rock star Eddie Van Halen and actor Michael Douglas, celebrities can help establish awareness of specific diseases and get people into dental offices for early detection. To get attention in the media these days you need to do things that seem crazy to many but when it’s for a good cause I don’t let critics slow me down,” said Zuk.

According to the British Dental Health Foundation, over 1,800 people in the UK die from mouth cancer every year. The organisation estimates that more than 6,000 people in the country will be diagnosed with the disease by the end of 2012.

The tour was organised by Tony Gedge, a private practice dental marketing expert, who also lost his father to the disease. Gedge became acquainted with Zuk when he interviewed him about his unorthodox marketing projects.

Zuk bought the tooth for over US$30,000. In the 1960s, the famous Beatles front man gave the tooth to his housekeeper, whose family auctioned it last November. Zuk also purchased one of Elvis Presley’s dental crowns earlier this year.

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