Dentures are the most common tooth replacement option out there and are lifechanging, especially for people who are missing most of or all of their teeth. Not only do they help patients regain chewing ability, but they also support facial muscles, improve speech ability, and improve the appearance of your smile. Dentures have been around for a long time, but they haven’t always been custom-made in a laboratory out of high-quality materials. Continue reading to learn more about the evolution of dentures into what they have become today.
The Origin of False Teeth
It is believed that the very first false teeth originated back to 700 BC. The Etruscans of Northern Italy would tie human or animal teeth together with gold wiring in order to construct their tooth replacements. They don’t seem like they would have been very helpful at allowing people to chew their food, so it is more likely that they were used solely for cosmetic reasons.
In other areas of the world, they were also replacing their missing teeth. Some indigenous tribes in Mexico would replace them using wolves’ teeth. The Ancient Mayans would use pieces of bone, seashells, or carved stone in these empty spaces. Eventually, they would fuse to the jawbone and work pretty well.
The Early Days of Dentures
The earliest surviving set of dentures were made from wood in Japan in the 1500s. They used the same suction technology that modern traditional dentures use. Over time, human teeth and animal horns were used more often when making dentures.
When you were younger, you probably heard about George Washington’s wooden dentures. However, his false teeth weren’t made of wood at all. Instead, they were made from the ivory plate of a hippopotamus. This was then filled with teeth from humans, horses, and donkeys. Because of the materials it was made out of, it became stained and acquired a foul smell over time.
It was in the 1800s that dentures really started becoming popular, but only amongst the elite and wealthy. During this time, the sugar consumption in Europe skyrocketed, leading to more dental issues and eventually, tooth loss. In order to make the dentures, teeth were collected from dead soldiers, criminals, and the poor who sold their teeth in order to make money. Having dentures was seen as a status symbol at the time.
Porcelain dentures were first invented by a British physician named Alexis Duchâteau in 1774. He developed them after his hippopotamus dentures began to rot. This wasn’t initially a success, but after working with a British dentist, they were able to create a more durable version and patent it in 1791.
Porcelain was an expensive material, so many could not afford dentures. This all changed when an affordable alternative was created by the Goodyear family in the mid-1800s consisting of vulcanite.
Dentures you see today are made from an acrylic resin that matches gum tissue. This gives them a more natural appearance. Artificial teeth are made to be all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors so they are relatively unnoticeable.
Dentures have been around for a while, and they have come a long way from their origins. Now, you can replace your missing teeth with optimal comfort and function.
About the Author
After serving as an officer for four years in the United States Marine Corps, Dr. Martin T. Barco III earned his dental degree from the University of North Carolina. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Indiana Dental Association, and several others. Dr. Barco provides dentures and partials as tooth replacement options at his practice in Bloomington. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (812) 332-8290.