Microbe Mouth

by Melissa Grant, Rachel Sammons & Anna Dumitriu

Delving deep into bacterial world of the mouth, Microbe Mouth explored healthy and unhealthy mouths and pondered the future of dentistry.

Scientists Melissa Grant and Rachel Sammons from the University of Birmingham’s School of Dentistry, along with bioartist Anna Dumitriu, revealed teeth they have grown using bacteria in the lab. At hands-on workshops, participants through glazed their own ceramic teeth using glazes and stains derived from various bacterial species .

The bacteria used for glazing included Porphyromonas gingivalis (known to give you gum disease!) that introduced an iron containing light brown stain to the glaze. The bacteria was sterilised prior to use.

Contributions from the workshop were fired and incorporated into an installation on display alongside the lab grown tooth 21-30 November in the Dental Institute on Guy’s Campus at King’s College London.

The work stems from research carried out by Rachel on the bacteria Serratia NCIMB 40259 with Prof Lynne Macaskie and co-workers. More information about the project.


Melissa Grant is a biochemist and senior lecturer in the School of Dentistry, University of Birmingham. Her research focuses on defining oral health and understanding how poor oral health affects the rest of the body and immune system. She works in the broadest sense of interdisciplinarity, collaborating with clinicians, scientists and artists.

Rachel Sammons is a microbiologist, lecturer in biomaterials and director of the Biomedical Materials Science programme at the University of Birmingham, School of Dentistry. She has a long-standing interest in biomineralisation in heath and disease but her current research focuses on the development of materials to resist bacterial attachment and biofilm formation in order to combat infections associated with biomaterials.

Anna Dumitriu is a British artist whose work fuses craft, technology and bioscience to explore our relationship to the microbial world, biomedicine and technology. She is artist-in-residence on the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project at the University of Oxford, at the Department of Computer Science at The University of Hertfordshire, and at the Wellcome Trust Brighton and Sussex Centre for Global Health Research. Her work has been exhibited at international venues including the V&A Museum, the Picasso Museum Barcelona, The Science Gallery Dublin, ZKM, The Beall Center for Art & Technology, LA, Eden Project, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei.

Website: https://www.normalflora.co.uk/
Twitter: @AnnaDumitriu

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