Friday, September 16, 2011

Interesting facts in the history of dentures- Crystal Lake Dentist

The first dentures

Mexican denture
The first known denture (artificial tooth replacement) was found in Mexico and consisted of animal teeth (probably wolf) dating back to 2500 BC.

Etruscan fixed bridges
Etruscan fixed bridges

The Etruscans of Italy were known for using gold wire or bands to attach human and animal teeth (replacing missing natural teeth) around 700 BC.

At about 300 BC some Egyptian  mummies had tooth replacements held in place with gold or silver wire.

From this time until the end of the Renaissance, not much took place in the area of replacing missing teeth.The main treatment consisted and removing teeth, and different attempts at dental hygiene and control of bad breath.

Wooden dentures

Japanese wooden denture circa 1800's

In the 1500's in Japan the first recorded wooden dentures appeared and continued until the 1900's

Ivory dentures

Ivory and human teeth combination denture

Ivory carved denture

In the 1700',s the end of the Renaissance, dentistry began to experiment with the use of human teeth, animal teeth and carved ivory to replace missing teeth. These dentures usually did not fit well and took a long time to fashion.

Denture made of ivory with springs

Springs and gold were used to attach dentures and help hold them in the mouth.

George Washington had dentures similar to this.

George Washington's last denture
At the time of his 2nd inaugural address, Washington had only one real tooth left, and his dentures were very painful and distorted his mouth. Because of this, he gave the shortest inaugural address of all time... it was only 135 words long. This speech took only 90 seconds to deliver. George Washington never had wooden teeth.

Waterloo Teeth.

Replacement teeth were very popular during this time for the wealthy and nobility. The main source for these teeth were cadavers or poor people selling teeth for money. After the battle of Waterloo, there were many scavengers taking teeth out of dead and dying soldiers to sell to dentists. This practice was so popular that the term" Waterloo Teeth" was coined and was a symbol of pride for the wearer of these teeth. The practice of collecting teeth from soldiers continued through the American Civil War when barrels of teeth were shipped back to Europe for dentures.

Check out this short video

Vulcanite dentures

Vulcanite denture

In the early 1800's porcelain teeth became commonly available and replaced human teeth in time. Denture bases were not well fitted until the invention of  vulcanite in the 1850's. The use of vulcanite lowered the cost of a denture by two thirds over a gold base.

Acrylic dentures
Acrylic dentures

In the early 20th century, acrylic resin is used for denture base and later denture teeth. Since then full and partial dentures take advantage of new metal alloys to reduce weight and add strength.

Modern smiles

Dentures today.
In the past 70 years, new plastics, adhesives, porcelain, zirconium, dental implants, root canal treatments, impression materials, and other items have revolutionized the replacement of teeth.

Dr. Neal at Crystal Lake Dental Associates answers all of your questions about dentures and partials.

 Your Comments are welcome.


  1. Periodontal disease, injury and tooth decay can all cause a loss of your natural teeth. However, we can bring back the smile on your face with dentures to restore your missing teeth. With improved technology and updated materials, dentists can now make them appear more natural and more comfortable for the patient.

    There are two types of dentures: complete and partial. Complete dentures cover the patient’s entire jaw while partial dentures, with their metal framework, replace multiple missing teeth. Ask our doctors to see which type would be right for you.

    It may take some time to adjust to your dentures. Speaking and eating may feel different at first, but these regular activities will resume normally once you are accustomed to your dentures.

  2. Very true, Thanks for your comments.
    Dr. Neal

  3. Like any history of corrective medicine apparatuses/installations, dentures too have evolved considerably in terms of its composition and structure. Those are some peculiar ones, like that of Honest Abe's.

    Randy Deaver

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Yes, I wonder what they will be doing a few centuries from now. How will they look back on our efforts?

      Dr Neal

  5. The history of dentures is quite interesting. The material through which dentures were made are unknown to me till now. Whereas in today's world acrylic dentures are the most famous one.

  6. thanks for that information, now I realized how far we reach in terms of dentures. If I will compare the denture of old time than nowadays I can't imagine the progress. By the way I'm planning to have dentures, does anybody has an idea about Dentistry Dentures (Full mouth) in Mexico Prices?

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.


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About Me

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Born in the Midwest. Married with 6 children and 3 grandchildren. Attended Maine West High School, Harper Jr College, Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois College of Dentistry. Practice in Crystal Lake, Illinois.