The popular perception of dentures as ill-fitting, unnatural-looking, and even comic may be widespread, but in reality, modern dentures are nothing like the chattering false teeth that you may have seen in cartoons and slapstick. Dentures have come a long way, and today they’re an effective, attractive solution to missing teeth.
But dentures weren’t always easy, and they certainly weren’t always attractive! In fact, early dentures could be quite gruesome.
The History of Dentures
Dentures may seem like a relatively modern construction, but actually, they’ve been around a long time. The first sets of dentures that historians are aware of were created by Etruscans in northern Italy around 700 BC from animal teeth, or even human teeth sometimes! This type of dentures remained popular all the way until the 1800s, although ivory dentures entered the picture in the 1700s as competition, and some sets of dentures were made with human teeth mounted onto an ivory base, combining the two concepts.
When you think of dentures in history, the first name that pops into most people’s heads is George Washington. Despite being popularly known for his wooden teeth, Washington’s dentures were not, in fact, made of wood. Instead, they were made of hippopotamus ivory and human teeth. He may have had teeth from his slaves or even the soldiers under his command who died in combat. Washington’s dentures were top-of-the-line for his time period — the best that money could buy. And even so, they may have killed him by harboring infectious bacteria.
Unfortunately, the demand for human teeth for dentures led to some unsavory practices in the gathering of materials for dentures. Grave robbing was a common practice used to obtain spare teeth, and yanking out the teeth of corpses after a battle was so common that they became known as “Waterloo teeth.” This was partly a branding move by some enterprising British dentists who felt that it made for a good brand. Some people even sold their own teeth for a bit of quick cash; think of Fantine selling her two front teeth in Les Miserables to support her daughter.
This rising demand for human teeth led to denture creators seeking out more renewable sources of teeth, which is when porcelain became popular. Porcelain teeth were set into a base of hardened rubber after around 1850, and by the time the 20th century rolled around, dentures were being made primarily from plastics and acrylics.
Luckily, nobody today has to wear somebody else’s teeth in their mouth! Today’s dentures are durable, realistic-looking, and comfortable. They’re carefully designed to fit and stay in your mouth so you can speak, eat, and laugh without fear of them slipping. In fact, denture technology has advanced so far that now dentures don’t just replace your teeth — they can even perform a sort of non-surgical facelift by providing the foundation for the cheeks and face that your natural teeth normally provide.
If you decide on Fountain of Youth® dentures, your dentist will design dentures that are a perfect fit for your face and your mouth. This will ensure that they are both comfortable and attractive, making them a perfect replacement for your real teeth.