The History of Dentures

Diana Denning
October 21, 2021
History of Dentures

Over the last 2,000 years, we have come a long way in our knowledge and technology. We have gone from hunters and gatherers to industrialization. We can travel around the globe in hours instead of years. We have more than doubled our lifespan.

With all these improvements, including longer life span, comes the need for our teeth to stay healthy for longer.

Our teeth haven’t evolved much over the years, but our knowledge of how to keep them healthy has. Teeth were so important all those years ago, that our ancestors were ingenious with the ways to offer false teeth.

The first record of false teeth comes from 700 BC. They would make false teeth out of animal teeth or teeth from other humans who had died. If human or animal teeth weren’t available, they would use stone or other bones from the skeleton. They would then string them together with wire.The false teeth were placed into the socket where the old tooth had been, and amazingly, the jawbone would integrate with the new tooth and hold it in place.

As time went on, people started to get more creative with the materials they used to make false teeth. Some made their teeth out of wood. Other people started using ivory for their false teeth, but usually only for the rich. Next came a porcelain material that was bonded to gold plates with springs for movement. By the early 1900s, a hardened rubber called vulcanite, allowed for porcelain teeth to be set in.

Over the years, people so badly wanted functional teeth that they would rob graves to steal the teeth off of a corpse. When soldiers died in battle, they would desecrate the dead by stealing their teeth before their bodies were collected. Other people, in desperate need of money, would have their teeth pulled out to sell them. They would go to jewelers, blacksmiths, and barbers to pull their teeth out.

While many things have changed over the last 2,000 years, some things have not. People still desperately want to have functional teeth and beautiful smiles. The false teeth of the past were not reliable and would easily deteriorate. But, that was what was offered as an option for false teeth. Because people so badly wanted teeth, they went to great lengths to get some.

Another thing that hasn’t changed, is dentures are still not the best option for a healthy mouth. Dentures cause bone loss, loss of your biting force, and damage to the surrounding teeth. They can cause mouth sores and blisters, can cause you to produce excess saliva, or trigger your gag reflex. Not to mention they can slip out at any time.

What our ancestors realized all those years ago, was that the jawbone will integrate to another material placed in the spot where a tooth had been. That is what makes dental implants a better option than dentures. Dentures wear down the bone, while dental implants build the jawbone like your natural teeth. If you are considering dentures, do yourself a favor and at least look into the benefits of dental implants.

We have come a long way over the years to improve the quality of false teeth. Don’t be stuck in the past with dentures. Embrace the 21st century and the option of dental implants.