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 understands the need to replace missing teeth, so many different methods have been created.
Archeologists have discovered primitive examples of dentures dating from as early as 1500 B.C. Egypt made from human teeth threaded with gold wire. Italians in 700 B.C. used similar construction, but included carved animal teeth. The Mayans carved replacement teeth from stone, shell, and bone, and placed the teeth directly in the jawbone by inserting the false teeth into the socket of a missing tooth.
As time marched on and the 18th Century was getting underway, dentures became more sophisticated. The began to be carved from ivory, bone, and had animal and human teeth. In fact, the story about George Washington’s teeth being made from carved wood and being extremely uncomfortable isn’t really true. Washington was able to afford the highest-quality dentures, which were made with hippo ivory, and used carved donkey and horse teeth in addition to human teeth.
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 Drs. Danlu Lee & Wendy Yeung, contact Radiant Smiles Family Dentistry in Kirkland, Washington, today.