In today’s society around 1 in every 5 adults are wearing some sort of dentures and thanks to the magic of modern dentistry no one would ever know…
The history of artificial tooth replacement goes all the way back to 2500BC. These were found in Mexico and consisted of what experts believe to be wolf teeth.
More modernised dentures were introduced in around 700BC. These were created by the Etruscans who were ancient ancestors of the Italians. These teeth were still often made with animal bones, normally they consisted of elephant ivory, whalebone, or hippopotamus bones. As technology had not really evolved and glue had not been invented yet, they used to use gold wire to bind the teeth together. Back then only the very wealthy could afford dentures, in the times of the ancient Egyptians, they used to put them in the mouths of the deceased pharaohs.
Dentistry was so sought after at this time by the wealthy that the Egyptians also used to have special burial tombs for them.
In the 1400’s dentures seemed to take more of the modernised shape that we see today.
These dentures were still made from carved animal bone or ivory, they were sometimes even made from human teeth. Grave robbers often used to steel the teeth of recently deceased people and sell them to dentists, and the poor used to make money by having their teeth extracted and selling them. The finished denture would not be very aesthetically pleasing or very stable in the mouth, and was often tied to the patients remaining teeth. Another problem that occurred with these dentures is that they tended not to last long and began to rot over time
|Combination of Human Teeth & Ivory|
Another 100 years past and by the 1500’s there had been little development for those seeking dentures. At this point in time they were still widely made from bone and ivory, along with a new type made of wood. Again the same problems occurred, as they would rot over time, and couldn’t have been comfortable for the patient.
It was in the 18th century that a real development took place.
Dietary changes were as major factor in the long awaited development of dentures. Sugar was the main culprit in tooth decay, and the demand subsequently increased. Dentists began to experiment with the ivory, and human teeth that were already used, in order to create something better. Technology was also moving with the times, and therefore Dentists were able to add gold springs and plates to the new dentures. However they were still notoriously uncomfortable.
By the late 18th century and 19th Century there were yet more developments.
The dentists had experimented deeper into finding a long lasting solution. It was now that porcelain was introduced. Porcelain shaped teeth were placed onto gold plates. These were the first dentures that look similar to modern ones of today, they could also be made in different shades. They did unfortunately have their problems too. The porcelain was delicate and therefore tended too often chip or break. They were also very white in colour, which made them look false.
By the mid 1800’s dentures developed more and more.
They were soon able to be comprised of vulcanite which is a hard rubber, and porcelain teeth. These were the first affordable dentures. Ivory dentures would cost around 25 guineas (a year’s wages for a household), whereas the new style vulcanite only cost 6. Another excellent fact about vulcanite is that because it’s a rubber. it could be moulded to a patients gums and palate, this meant they were the best fitting dentures invented yet.
Dentures again changed into the modern ones we see today in the 20th century. They are made of an acrylic resin.