In ancient times, the care of your teeth was just not all that important, especially if you were being chased by a saber-toothed tiger. Survival took front and center in our ancestors’ lives, and needless to say, bothersome teeth were the last of their worries. However, as humans progressed and began to settle down into farming communities and towns, they began to have time for teeth concerns. As humans’ lives became easier and technology progressed, the care of teeth began to become important in people’s lives.
Century Dental offers three offices to conveniently serve you: Eatontown, Jackson, and Pine Beach. We specialize in general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and restorative dentistry, including denture implants and partial dentures. In this blog post, we’ll take a close look at the history of false teeth, or dentures. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!
THE HISTORY OF FALSE TEETH
The earliest known false teeth were discovered in Mexico that date back to 2500 BC. These are believed to have been made from wolf teeth. Dentures next make a known historical appearance in the land of Italy, where some were found dating back to 700 BC that used gold wire to attach them animal teeth to the human teeth.
Surprisingly, dentures again disappear from the historical record. This is because the trend became to just pull out teeth that were rotten or that hurt instead of trying to replace them. This was because nothing existed and no one tried to do anything about it.
Queen Elizabeth I was a victim of this lack of innovation in dentistry phase. She lost most of her teeth due to eating way too much sugar, which as a royal, she could afford all she wanted. Most of her teeth were eventually extracted (in a time before pain meds except getting drunk). Century Dental points out that when you have no teeth, your cheeks sink inward, making it painfully obvious. Queen Elizabeth I used cloth to stuff in her mouth when she would make public appearances.
Century Dental notes that this trend of pulling teeth rather than replacing teeth held until the Renaissance when the first known example of wooden dentures were found in Japan. Eventually, other materials began to be used besides wood, such as ivory and animal teeth. Even other people’s teeth were used as well. They were made by the barber-surgeons (the dentists of the early 18th and 19th century), as well as by goldsmiths.
As sugar became readily available beginning in the 1700s, most people suffered some kind of tooth loss by the age of 50, necessitating the need for better false teeth.
Most students of American history know that our first President, George Washington, wore dentures made of ivory from hippopotamuses and elephants, gold, human teeth, and spiral springs — not wood of legend. The wood legend probably stems from the fact that Washington’s teeth became stained, which would then resemble wood, most likely from drinking too much red wine. You can see his false teeth at his Mount Vernon estate. Washington’s face suffered severely due to his tooth loss, which you can see in some of his portraits. In fact, it is believed that George Washington’s rotting teeth may have partly contributed to his death due to an infection that spread. However, this has never been proven.
Early Types of False Teeth Materials
- Ivory. One of the earliest types of false teeth material besides wood, ivory looked like real teeth. They did decay rapidly, but were popular throughout the 1700s and early 1800s.
- Waterloo Teeth. These teeth were made from human teeth and obviously worked the best up to this point in history. As you can guess, it’s not like people donated their teeth to others. In fact, most of these teeth came from grave robbers. The name “Waterloo Teeth” is probably self explanatory. However, at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 where Napoleon was soundly defeated and effectively ended his rule of France, over 50,000 young men with good teeth died. And as you have guessed, their teeth were extracted and used by the British into the late 1860s. Century Dental in New Jersey notes that this practice of stealing teeth was used in the American Civil War as well.
- Vulcanite. This is definitely a colorful name. Vulcanite is basically the name for flexible rubber that was patented in 1851. It was much more comfortable to wear and was cheap, making dentures available to the middle class for the first time.
- Porcelain. The first porcelain dentures appeared in 1770. However, they fell short on usability, but with refinement, garnered a patent in 1791. Improvements and innovations kept coming in dentures throughout the 1800s. Porcelain veneers is still a popular choice for dentures.
- Resin. In 1938, resins began to be used. Resin along with other types of plastic are still used for dentures and partial dentures today.
Century Dental with offices Eatontown, Jackson, and Pine Beach, NJ, notes that modern dentures are extremely comfortable, easier to chew with, and last longer. They look great as well, and most people can’t tell the difference between dentures and real teeth. However, as the technology improved for false teeth, so too did the technology improve for the care of your real teeth, leading to the need for dentures to be considerably less today than in the past.
HOW CENTURY DENTAL CAN HELP WITH DENTURES
As part of our restorative dental practice, dentures are offered by the Century Dental family in three convenient locations to serve you. Whether you’ve lost teeth in accidents or they have just worn out, we can help. With dental implants and partial dentures, you can have new teeth in no time that fit your mouth and work wonders for the functionality of your teeth.
Century Dental offers a variety of materials to choose from for your dentures, and we can help you choose which will work best in your particular circumstance. We will work with your dental insurance company to get you a best estimate of what they will cover and what your out-of-pocket expense will be. We offer payment online, as well as regular specials that are posted on our website. Check back often for details.
In addition, we also offer general dentistry, if you are in need of a regular dentist, as well as cosmetic dentistry, if you are unhappy with your smile. From professional teeth whitening to Invisalign®, we can help restore your smile so you can be confident and comfortable in your everyday life. It’s never too late to change your smile. Contact one of our three offices in New Jersey today!