An Abridged History of Dentures

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Though it might surprise you, dentures and false teeth have been around nearly as long as human society itself. Teeth are such an integral part of our lives that we have used our ingenuity to replace them in many different ways over the centuries.

There are examples of primitive dentures from 1500 B.C. Egypt and even earlier in Mesopotamia. They took human teeth and supported them with threaded gold wire. Other primitive tooth replacements were used in ancient America, among the ancient Mayans. Mayans would carve stone, seashell, and bone into the shape of teeth and place them in the empty cavity of a lost tooth. While that sounds barbaric to our modern ears, evidence points to it being very effective, as the materials fused permanently with the jawbone.

As time went on and civilization began to approach modernity, dentures came to be made from bone, ivory, and eventually porcelain. Everybody has heard about George Washington’s wooden dentures, but that isn’t actually true. Washington was wealthy enough to sport some of the highest quality dentures of the time, carved from hippopotamus ivory and inserted with human, horse, and donkey teeth.

Around 1774, a Frenchman named Alexis Duchateau created the first porcelain dentures. However, they were prone to chipping damage and looked too white to be real teeth, so dentures made from human teeth, or “waterloo teeth’ – named after the teeth picked from dead soldiers – were in much higher demand.

A leap forward was made in 1820 when a goldsmith named Claudius Ash from Westminster, England, made dentures from porcelain mounted on gold plates. These dentures were superior in every way over the previous models. Constantly looking for new ways to improve the dentures, Ash made dentures from Vulcanite rubber in 1850, and from that time forward that was the standard for dentures until the 20th century, when acrylic resin and other plastics became the preferred materials for crafting dentures.

If you would like to make a denture consultation with Dr. Chadwick Webster, contact Dental Creations in Tulsa, Oklahoma today.