Dentures have been around for at least 2700 years, longer than most of technology we use today! Here’s a brief look at how far we’ve come:
The earliest known dentures were from 700 BC in Northern Italy, fashioned out of human and animal teeth by the Etruscan people. The materials were easy to source and the dentures themselves easy to make. The only downfall was that these makeshift prosthetics would deteriorate rather quickly. That must not have bothered people too much, because they remained popular into the 1800s.
Vying for popularity in the 1700s, ivory dentures started popping up. These would be sourced from walruses, elephants, and hippopotamuses. However, these seemingly fashionable dentures discoloured very easily and never became the standard. Next up was porcelain dentures from a man by the name of Alexis Duchateau. While he did correct the discolouration issue, it would appear he skewed too far. The porcelain was so bright, that the new invention was not convincing as natural teeth replacement. Combine that with the fact that porcelain cracks easily, and this idea was thrown to the wayside fairly quickly after its inception.
Looks Just Like the Real Thing! (Because It Was)
The early 1800s brought the Battle of Waterloo and a strange phenomenon in dentures. People had decided to take the teeth from the mouths of dead soldier’s where they lay. After this, teeth were taken from criminals and slaves or supplied by grave robbers. Contrary to popular belief, George Washington did not have wooden teeth; his dentures were made from human teeth, like many other people in his time.
The Perfect Fit
Finally, in 1820, a man named Claudius Ash invented a new set of dentures that didn’t have to be sourced from dead bodies. They were made by mounting porcelain on 18-karat gold plates, with gold springs and swivels. Soon after, dentures were made of Vulcanite, a hardened rubber into which the porcelain teeth were set. In the 20th century, acrylic resin and other plastics replaced the porcelain.
We have come a long way from putting animal teeth in our mouth. Advancements and research even now is constantly improving denture technology. And that gives everyone a great reason to smile!