Dentures have been used by humans for centuries, as a way to replace missing teeth and aid in day-to-day functions such as chewing and speaking. Today our Summerland dentist shares a bit about the history of dentures and what dentures are made of now.
The History of Dentures
Peoples throughout recorded history have used dentures to restore the function and appearance of their smile.
In northern Italy, around 700 BC, people constructed dentures out of a mixture of human and animal teeth.
Dentures in the 1700's
In the 1700's, ivory dentures made from elephant, hippopotamus, or walrus were popular with those who could afford them.
George Washington is rumoured to have had some of the highest quality dentures of his time, with the plate carved from hippopotamus ivory imbedded with a collection of human, horse, and donkey teeth.
Dentures in the 1800's
Claudius Ash created porcelain teeth mounted onto 18-karat gold plates for the ultra rich of the 1800's. Ash later went on to create more affordable dentures made from hardened rubber with porcelain teeth.
Denture technology has come a long way! No more donkey or horse teeth, today's dentures look and feel more natural than ever.
Today, animal teeth have been replaced with teeth made from materials such as acrylic resin or porcelain.
Acrylic Resin Teeth
Acrylic dentures tend to be less expensive and lighter than dentures made from porcelain, and offer patients a comfortable and cost effective way to replace missing teeth.
The primary drawback of acrylic resin dentures is that these dentures tend to wear faster than dentures with porcelain teeth. With proper care, you can expect acrylic dentures to last approximately 5-8 years, at which time they will need to be replaced.
Porcelain gives artificial teeth a very natural look and feel. Dentures with porcelain teeth offer a number of benefits when compared to acrylic dentures:
- Porcelain has a translucent appearance which gives the dentures a more natural look.
- Porcelain teeth feel more natural than acrylic resin teeth, and tend to be easier to adjust to.
- Porcelain teeth are much harder and longer lasting than acrylic resin teeth.
Nonetheless, there are drawbacks to porcelain dentures. Porcelain teeth are much more fragile than acrylic resin teeth, which means that they are easily broken or chipped if dropped on a hard surface.
Another drawback of dentures made with porcelain teeth is that the teeth are extremely hard. Natural teeth could get worn down by any porcelain teeth that bite against them. Which is why these dentures are predominantly used for full jaw tooth replacements.
The artificial teeth of dentures are held in place by a plate.
Denture plates are no longer carved out of ivory or formed out of gold. Today's plates can be made from a range of different materials, including rigid acrylic resin, flexible (nylon) polymer, or cobalt metal.
For a more natural look, acrylic denture plates are designed with an artificial gum line, tinted to look just like the natural gums of the patient.
Metal denture plates are a more durable option and tend to offer a better fit than acrylic resin plates. Metal plates are often used for partial dentures where the plate is hidden behind remaining natural teeth.