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The History of Dentures

By Patrick Casey on December 07, 2018

A partial dentureDentures are a time tested treatment that instantly restore dental function and the smile's appearance for those who suffer from significant tooth loss.

At Smile Montreal Dentistry, Drs. Charles and Patrick Casey offer the latest advancements in dentures and other tooth replacement treatments, restoring smiles and improving oral health.

To understand today's advanced denture treatments, it helps to have a little background on the history of dentures. Find out more as our Montreal, QC dentists provide this history of dentures.

The First Dentures

The use of dentures has been dated back to the Ancient Egyptians, possibly as early as 1500 B.C. Evidence of the earliest dentures shows they were typically made of human teeth held together with gold wire.

The Ancient Egyptians weren't the only ancient people to use dentures. The Etruscans, who lived in the area we now know as Umbria and Tuscany in Italy, used dentures made of animal teeth and human teeth placed within a band of gold and attached to the remaining teeth within the mouth using a metal pin.

Wooden Dentures First Appear in Japan

Around the 16th century, the Japanese began to create wooden dentures. Each set of wooden dentures was carved based on an impression of the patient's mouth, which was made using beeswax.

While early versions of wooden dentures were made entirely of wood, later versions would use ivory, human teeth, animal horn, or a type of rock called pagodite.

Ivory Dentures

During the 1700s, dentures were often made of ivory from hippopotamus teeth, or the tusks of walrus and elephants. Unfortunately, ivory did not make for very durable dentures and those who could afford dentures often needed to have them replaced. Despite ivory's tendency to deteriorate, ivory dentures were used until about the 1800s.

Waterloo Teeth

Although dentures with porcelain teeth were available and in use during the 1800s, human teeth were widely used and very popular among Europe's wealthy. During this time, many soldiers died during the Battle of Waterloo, and teeth for dentures were pulled from the fallen soldiers. Because of this, dentures using human teeth were often called “Waterloo teeth.”

Dentures made of human teeth were in high demand during the 1800s, largely because of an increase in sugar consumption and the related uptick in tooth loss. Demand was so high that some people would sell their teeth and graver robbers would steal teeth and sell them to denture makers.

Porcelain Dentures

Around 1770, a man named Alexis Duchâteau created the first pair of porcelain dentures. About 20 years later, Duchâteau's assistant, Nicholas Dubois de Chémant, obtained a British patent for porcelain dentures.

Porcelain dentures continued to evolve into the 1800s as others began setting the porcelain teeth in gold plates and later a new type of hardened rubber called Vulcanite.

Modern Dentures

Vulcanite dentures remained popular until the 20th century, when acrylic resin became the new standard. Acrylic resin can be crafted in any color to match the shade of each patient's mouth, creating a natural look.

Acrylic resin is also easily molded using impressions from the patient's mouth, allowing a comfortable fit, all of which led to the popularity of acrylic resin in denture manufacturing.

Implant-supported Dentures

Also made of acrylic, implant-supported dentures are the latest advancement in denture treatment. Implant-supported dentures are different from traditional dentures in that they are anchored within the mouth using several dental implants (small titanium posts which are inserted into the jawbone).

These implants help to firmly secure the dentures in place. Implant-supported dentures have made it possible for today's denture wearers to enjoy a more secure, natural feeling experience when eating and talking.

Learn More about Tooth Replacement

If you are missing one or more teeth, our dentists can help. To learn more about your options for tooth replacement, please call (514) 937-6558 to schedule a consultation.

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Westmount Office

4695 Rue Sherbrooke O
Westmount, QC H3Z 1G2

Open Today 7:00am - 3:00pm

More Info Directions (514) 937-6558