Dentures are a common tooth replacement option that has changed the lives of millions of Americans. They help to improve appearance, support facial muscles, allow patients to chew, and improve speech ability. This option has been around for a long time, but they haven’t always been made out of reliable materials in a laboratory. In fact, dentures actually trace back to about 700 BC! Read on to learn more about the origin and evolution of dentures throughout time.
The First False Teeth
It is believed that false teeth originate all the way back to the Etruscans of Northern Italy in 700 BC. They would construct their teeth replacements with human or animal teeth tied together with gold wiring. However, these “dentures” probably weren’t the most effective at helping people eat. They were likely made for cosmetic purposes. In other parts of the world, like the indigenous tribes in Mexico, people would replace their missing teeth using the teeth of wolves. The Ancient Mayans would use carved stones, bits of bone, and even seashells. They would fuse with the jawbone and work surprisingly well.
The earliest surviving set of dentures were made out of wood in 16th century Japan. They relied on the same suction technique used today for modern dentures. As time went on, they began using more human teeth and teeth made from animal horns.
You probably heard about George Washington’s wooden dentures when you were going to school. The truth of the matter is that his dentures weren’t made from wood at all. They were actually made from a carved hippopotamus ivory plate with human, horse, and donkey teeth. Over time, these would become stained and put off a bad odor.
Dentures didn’t start becoming more popular until the 1800s when the sugar consumption in Europe increased significantly. This caused many Europeans to experience increased tooth loss from decay. Healthy teeth were often collected from soldiers who died in battle, executed criminals, and poor people who sold their teeth in order to make some money. The teeth would be used to create dentures which were only worn by the very wealthy because they were so expensive. Having dentures was actually seen as a status symbol among the elite!
The first porcelain dentures were invented by Alexis Duchâteau, a British physician, in 1774 after his hippopotamus dentures began to rot. They weren’t successful at first, but he worked with a British dentist and patented a more durable version in 1791.
Because porcelain was so expensive, many could not afford to wear this type of denture. This is why a more affordable alternative was created by the Goodyear family in the mid-1800s. It consisted of vulcanite. This was popular until the 20th century.
Today, dentures are made of acrylic resin that matches gum tissue, giving them a more natural appearance. The artificial teeth are available in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, and colors to give patients the best appearance possible. Periodically, dentures can be refitted and replaced for optimum comfort and function.
False teeth have been around for a long time, but they are more advanced than ever before. Today, if you are suffering from tooth loss, you can get high quality dentures in Port Orange. There is no reason that you can’t get your smile back!
About the Author
Dr. Sean Bannan provides a wide variety of services, including both full and partial dentures, at Water’s Edge Dental in Port Orange, FL. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and is a member of numerous organizations including the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. For more information on dentures or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (386) 761-5883.