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The Wonderful History of Dentures

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

There is archaeological evidence that humans have attempted to replace missing teeth with implants for thousands of years.

Remains from ancient China (dating 4000 years ago) have carved bamboo pegs, tapped into the bone, to replace lost teeth, and 2000-year-old remains from ancient Egypt have similarly shaped pegs made of precious metals.

Some Egyptian mummies were found to have transplanted human teeth, and in other instances, teeth made of ivory.

In Honduras dating back to 600 AD, the lower mandible of a young Mayan woman, with three missing incisors were replaced by pieces of sea shells, shaped to resemble teeth where found.

As early as the 7th century BC, Etruscans in northern Italy made partial dentures out of human or other animal teeth fastened together with gold bands.

The Romans had likely borrowed this technique by the 5th century BC.

Wooden full dentures were invented in Japan around the early 16th century. Softened bees wax was inserted into the patient's mouth to create an impression, which was then filled with harder bees wax.

The earliest of these dentures were entirely wooden, but later versions used natural human teeth or sculpted pagoditeivory, or animal horn for the teeth.

These dentures were built with a broad base, exploiting the principles of adhesion to stay in place.

The first porcelain dentures were made around 1770.

17th century London's Peter de la Roche is believed to be one of the first 'operators for the teeth', men who advertised themselves as specialists in dental work.

They were often professional goldsmiths, ivory turners or students of barber-surgeons.

In 1820, Samuel Stockton, a goldsmith by trade, began manufacturing high-quality porcelain dentures mounted on 18-carat gold plates.

Later dentures from the 1850s on were made of Vulcanite, a form of hardened rubber into which porcelain teeth were set.

In the 20th century, acrylic resin and other plastics were used.

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