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Enduring Dentures: A History of Tooth Replacement

January 15, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Stutman's Office @ 10:39 am
Hand holding a glass of water containing dentures

Dentures are a popular solution if you’re suffering from tooth loss and are looking for ways to refill your grin. Not only do they restore your capacity to eat and speak more normally, but they’re a tried-and-true method with a long history going back to our ancient ancestors. That said, they’ve come a long way since the earliest attempts at replacing teeth. Keep reading to learn more about how dentures have progressed and why there’s no better time than now to get them!

The Earliest Replacement Teeth

The first dentures may have existed as early as 700 BC with the ancient Etruscans of northern Italy. Rudimentary attempts at replacements made of human or animal teeth tied together with golden wires have been found at archaeological sites. Similar examples were discovered at Egyptian and Mexican sites, as well. Some indigenous tribes in Mexico would insert wolves’ teeth in place of their missing ones, and ancient Mayans were known to do the same with carved stones, bones, or seashells. These organic materials could fuse with our ancient ancestor’s jawbones for a permanent restoration.

The First Dentures

The first set of dentures as we know them were made of wood and date back to 16th century Japan and were popular until the 19th century. Different materials were used for the teeth and could range from human to animal teeth, and even ivory from hippos, walruses, and elephants. Because these resources were so valuable, however, only the wealthy could afford them. Dentures were expensive to create and often the materials became stained or developed foul odors over time, so they weren’t widely used by the general public.

Updates in the 1800’s

In the 19th century, sugar consumption in Europe skyrocketed and as a result, many people lost most or all their teeth by the time they turned 50 years old. The majority couldn’t afford dentures at that point, and so new materials were needed to replace their teeth.

The first set of porcelain dentures was made in 1774 by a British physician. This early model was upgraded in 1820 when a silversmith mounted porcelain teeth onto gold plates with springs and swivels. This is considered the first set of modern dentures.

20th Century Dentures

Because the average person could not afford gold-plated dentures, new solutions were required. In the mid-1800s, the Goodyear family invented a hardened rubber, vulcanite, that could be used as a base, instead. This could also be molded to a person’s gums for a customized fit. Then, in the 20th century, acrylic resin was created and became the norm for dentures.

Dentures Today

Now, dentures are more comfortable and lifelike than ever before. They’re made of a gum-colored acrylic resin that suctions to your gums and contains porcelain false teeth, or pontics. They can be color-matched to your ideal shade and are a versatile solution that can replace several or all of your missing teeth.

Thanks to many advancements in dental materials and technology, today, dentures are considered an affordable and convenient way to rebuild your perfect smile!

About the Practice

At South Shore Dental, you and the entire family benefit from two dentists who provide a wide range of services under one roof, including dentures. They take the time to get to know your medical history and dental needs and work cohesively to provide individualized solutions. Then, they use state-of-the-art technology to enhance patient comfort and provide beautiful, accurate restorations. If you’re considering dentures and would like a consultation, you’re welcome to request an appointment on the website or by calling (516) 798-3808.

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