Dentures have been around for a surprisingly long time. Nearly as long as civilization, as far as the archaeologists have been able to tell. Each culture has seen the need to replace missing teeth, so many different methods have been created.
Primitive dentures from 1500 B.C. Egypt have been discovered, made from human teeth threaded with gold wire. Italians in 8th century B.C. used the same construction with animal teeth in addition to human. Ancient Mayans carved teeth from bone, stone, and seashell and inserted them directly into the socket of a missing tooth. This apparently worked better than it sounds, as the false teeth fused with the bone they were inserted into.
As civilization advanced and approached the 1700s, dentures became more sophisticated, being carved from ivory and bone. The urban legend of George Washington’s wooden dentures is simply untrue. He had some of the highest-quality dentures available at the time. They were carved from hippopotamus ivory, and had human teeth with horse and donkey teeth carved to shape.
Around 1774, a man attempted to revolutionize denture construction. A man named Alexis Duchateau crafted a pair of dentures from porcelain. Unfortunately, the material he used wasn’t all that durable, and the whiteness looked unnatural, so they weren’t widely used. The most popular dentures of the time were made from normal teeth pulled from dead soldiers or sold by people desperate for money. They were called “Waterloo teeth.”
A breakthrough happened in 1820 when a gold and silversmith called Claudius Ash made porcelain dentures mounted on gold plates. These dentures were far more comfortable and more aesthetically pleasing than any that had been named before. He kept experimenting with his dentures, and in 1850 had another breakthrough. He used Vulcanite rubber as the base for his dentures. The rubber foundation became the standard until the 20th century, when acrylics and plastics became the dentures we know today.
If you would like to make a denture consultation with Dr. Robert Berkowitz, contact Trinity Dental Center in Anderson, South Carolina today.