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Shane MacGowan’s dentist: climbing the Everest of dentistry

29 December 2015

Shane MacGowan’s dentist: climbing the Everest of dentistry

Shane MacGowan in 2005 (left) and now. Image credit: Getty images via The Independent 

Dental surgeon Darragh Mulrooney speaks out about taking on a dental challenge that was “as big as it gets”.

Dr Mulrooney described the mammoth task of restoring Shane’s infamously damaged mouth as being the Everest of Dentistry. However it was not a feat he took on alone, stressing that it required a whole team to “get to the summit”.

The teeth of Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan have long been a talking point. Years of drugs, alcohol and misbehaviour have taken their toll on his oral health. MacGowan even admits that some of this damage was caused by biting into vinyl copy of The Beach Boys Greatest Hits, “Yeah, I was out of my head,” he said. “I thought I was conducting talks with the Americans after the third world war. I said: ‘This is what I think of American culture’, and took a big bite out of it. And it’s a good record, actually.”

By 2008, the Fairytale of New York singer had lost his final two teeth. The following year he had a set of dentures fitted, but was left less than satisfied “I couldn’t abide by them. It was a botch job,” he said.

Luckily Dr Mulrooney stepped up to the plate leaving Shane with 28 new implants, including one gold one as requested.

The transformation required 6 operations and on-going treatment over a course of 6 months, which was all captured in the Sky Arts documentary ‘Shane MacGowan: a wreck reborn’.

“Shane recorded most of his great works when he had some teeth to work with,” said Dr Mulrooney. “The question on everyone’s lips is how it will affect his voice. The tongue is a finely attuned muscle and it makes precise movements. We’ve effectively retuned his instrument and that will be an ongoing process.”

MacGowan was pleased with the results this time round: “I’m getting used to them…it’s good to have teeth again. I feel better about the way I look.”

And the surgery has not just benefitted Shane’s oral health, “There was a moving moment when someone gave Shane an apple to eat…something he hadn’t done in 20 years,” said Dr Mulrooney. “The simple things in life are sometimes the most important.”


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