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A Brief History of Dentures


A Brief History of Dentures

History of denturesTooth loss is not just a recent problem for humans. In fact, tooth loss has been a major issue for thousands of years. As you would expect, we have looked for tooth loss solutions for thousands of years as well. The very first dentures were made by the Etruscans in northern Italy around 700 BC with the use of human and animal teeth. Since then, dentures have come a long way and are virtually indistinguishable to natural teeth. Here at Brooklyn Heights Dental, we’ve seen countless patients enjoy improved self-confidence with the help of dentures. This affordable tooth loss solution has a range of benefits including the restored look to your smile, improved facial appearance, restored chewing abilities, and more. The benefits of a modern denture are drastically different from its primitive beginnings. To explain more on this subject, Dr. Eugene Stanislaus gives his readers in Brooklyn, NY an in-depth look at the long history of dentures.

A Look Through Time: The Evolution of Dentures

Ancient Dentures: Although tooth loss didn’t become a major issue until later on in history with the introduction of sugar during the industrial era, even humans in early civilizations attempted to restore their smile with the use of primitive dentures. Here’s a quick look at different ancient civilizations that tried their hand at creating dentures:

  • Ancient Japan: Historians found the oldest known pair of complete dentures that trace back to the Ganjyoji Temple in Kii Province. These dentures are believed to belong to the priestess, Nakaoka Tei. They were made of wood from a tree known as Japanese Box and stayed in place with suction. Wooden dentures continued to be the most popular restoration option in Japan until the late 19th century.
  • Ancient Egypt: Archeologists believe that the ancient Egyptians began creating primitive forms of dentures around 1500 BC. The Egyptians would take human teeth and thread them with gold wire to create a set of false teeth.
  • Ancient Italy: Like the Egyptians, the Etruscans attempted to create a replacement set of teeth by threading human and animal teeth together with gold wire. These primitive dentures would typically fall apart and would not be a functional solution when it came to biting and chewing. However, the use of animal and human teeth together would continue in Europe until the mid-1800s.

The Emergence of Modern Dentures: Following these ancient solutions, societies continued to attempt to create dentures that were more realistic and better functioning. Advancements with dentures began to steadily increase as the need for restoration increased in the 1800s. During the industrialization of civilizations, the amount of sugar consumption increased, which then increased the amount of tooth decay. Researchers say that the British per capita sugar consumption increased 500% between 1860 and 1890. The increase in sugar consumption along with the availability of tobacco products helps create a market for dentures.

    • Dentures in the 1700s and 1800s: Contrary to popular belief, President George Washington didn’t have wooden dentures. Given the time period, President Washington had the best of the best with finely-crafted ivory dentures. Most high-quality dentures at the time would use ivory from a hippopotamus along with wires springs and screws to hold it together.
    • Another common practice during this time was the use human teeth to create dentures. In fact, many body-snatchers would steal teeth from the mouths of dead soldiers during wars, which became known as “waterloo teeth.” They would then sell the teeth to dentists and surgeons for a high price. Although these dentures were superior to older versions, they held a stigma that was associated with thievery. Dentists were eventually forced to create new techniques for dentures with other materials.
    • The major development in the creation dentures occurred in 1839 with the invention of the vulcanization process for hardening rubber. The process of Vulcanite was created by Charles Goodyear and allowed dentists to create dentures that were perfectly molded to the mouths of patients. This material was inexpensive for dentists and revolutionized the comfort and feel of the modern denture.
    • Modern dentures today are typically made from an acrylic base material that is custom-fit using impressions from the patient. This material is strong, resistant to stains, and will appear much more natural with a light pink, flesh color that is similar to the color of your gums.

Contact our Office in Brooklyn, NY

As you can see, dentures today are very different from the early primitive versions. Modern dentures can look completely natural while restoring your ability to chew and eat. In addition to your restored confidence, you can enjoy all of the perks associated with restoring your smile. To get started on your restoration, contact our office today and schedule your consultation with Dr. Stanislaus.