The Evolution of Dentures through the Ages

Most of us were quite terrified of our grandparents’ dentures early on. The realization that someone has false teeth can be quite terrifying to a youngster. However, once you learn about the history of dentures later in life, you may come to realize that modern dentures are not so frightening.

What Archeological Finds Tell Us

Evidence from archaeological digs shows that the use of dentures was quite commonplace in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians had invented some rudimentary form of dentures as early as 1500 B.C. At the time, the Egyptians would use human teeth. The teeth were threaded with a gold wire to create a functional set of false teeth. These teeth were used in place of teeth that had rotted or fallen off for any reason. However, even before the Egyptians, the use of false teeth was quite prevalent.

Use of Animal Teeth

In ancient Mexico, the tribes that inhabited these lands in the past used animal teeth to replace lost or broken teeth. Not much about the exact process is known. However, it was assumed that they would simply take the tooth of an animal such as a wolf and insert it into the socket where the original tooth had been.

The practice of using animal teeth was not unique to the ancient Mexicans. The Etruscans of Italy were also used animal teeth bonded to human teeth to create a full set of dentures. However, it is quite important to note that these types of dentures did not last long. They usually tended to fall apart after a short period of continued use. However, they were a quick and simple way to make dentures. The practice of using a wire to bind human and animal teeth remained a practice throughout Europe until the Renaissance.

The Era of Modern Dentures

The first complete set of dentures was discovered in Japan. The set of wooden dentures were traced back to the Ganjyoji Temple, Kii Province. The teeth were made from a species native to Japan known as the Japanese Box. These set of dentures was interesting because they were quite similar in shape to modern dentures. The dentures, which were held in place by suction, were believed to have been the property of Priestess NakaokaTei. The use of wooden dentures continued to be prevalent in Japan until 19th century during the Meiji era.

Although Japan holds the record for the first complete set of dentures, Alexis Duchateau first tried the use of porcelain to make dentures in 1770. An apprentice of Duchateau applied for a patent for the dentures in 1791 and began to market them after a year of the application.

The Improvements to Dentures

During the eighteenth century, the use of tobacco and sugar had become quite prevalent. The result was that tooth decay became quite rampant. It prompted many people to start thinking on how they could resolve the issue, thus allowing people to live normal lives despite losing teeth. The era saw the attempted use of many materials, including gold. At the time, there was also a reduce reliance on the use of animal teeth.

From the 1790s going forward, many improvements were made to dentures. In the early 19th century, a goldsmith began creating high-end dentures using 18-carat gold plates. At around that time, the highest quality dentures were made from an ivory base. Most of these dentureswere made from the teeth of dead people. Alternatively, poor people would sell their good teeth to make some money.

The original dentures were made by craftsmen and not dentists. Consequently, they tended to fit quite poorly. At the time, these teeth were usually quite painful and uncomfortable. Besides that, they were only accessible to the upper classes due to the amount required to obtain them. The middle class with dental problems were usually forced to go without teeth.

The Use of Vulcanite

Originally, most dentures relied on a metal base. However, it all changed with the invention of vulcanite. The material was soft enough to be molded and it could harden with ease. Charles Goodyear perfected the process in 1839 and he was awarded a patent in 1851. Dentists soon caught on to the idea that this rubber could be molded to fit in the mouths of each patient. However, the material dried into an unnatural-looking brown material. Thus, dentists used it only for the main body of the dentures. The rest of the dentures were created using porcelain, which looked more natural.

Initially, Goodyear had chosen not to enforce the patent for vulcanite. However, when the original patent expired in 1861, it was reacquired for vulcanite used in dentures in 1864. Unlike before, an officer for Goodyear was quite active in enforcing the patent. He would conduct covert investigations and sue dentists who did not pay royalties for the use of the material.

Modern Solutions for Dentures

Most people have suffered cavities at some point in our lives. If we are old enough, we may have even had them filled with amalgam. While the era of wooden teeth and animal teeth is long gone, you can trust Vital Dental for a modern solution. Visit at General Dentistry at Katy to get your modern set of dentures.