The True History Of False Teeth

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If you think false teeth are gross then just see what people used to use to replace missing teeth.

Ancient Egypt, Ancient Teeth

Around 1500 B.C., the ancient Egyptians became the first people known to use false teeth. They took human teeth (not necessarily their own) and threaded them with gold wire to attach them in the mouth.

Wooden Teeth

The oldest known set of complete dentures was made by the Japanese. Believed to be worn by the priestess Nakaoka Tei in the Ganjyoji Temple, these teeth were made from Japanese Box tree wood and stayed in the mouth using suction.

Animal Teeth

Around 700 B.C. the Italians strung teeth together with gold wire to create dentures in a method similar to what the ancient Egyptians used. However, unlike the ancient Egyptians, the Italians used animal teeth along with human teeth.

Stony Implants

The Mayan civilization practiced an early form of tooth replacement similar to the dental implants we use today. Around 600 A.D., they would place carved stones, seashell fragments, and pieces of bone in an empty tooth socket. This proved to be a very efficient tooth replacement method when the jaw bone grew around these materials.

Ivory Pearly Whites

In 18th century America, ivory from walruses, elephants, and hippos was the popular tooth replacement material. This included George Washington’s false teeth, which were made of ivory, human teeth, and animal teeth rather than wood as people often mistakenly believe.

Shining White Porcelain

The first porcelain dentures were created in 1774 by a physician living in Britain named Alexis Duchateau. However, these teeth chipped very easily and looked unnaturally white. Despite these faults, in 1791 Nicholas Dubois De Chemant, a former apprentice of Duchateau, would take out a patent for dentures and start making them for his patients.

Waterloo Teeth

In 1815, the Battle of Waterloo cost over 50,000 lives. Afterwards, the Belgium people went among the dead and pulled out their teeth! They sold these “Waterloo Teeth” to England, where they were very popular to wear as false teeth. This tooth scavenging method would happen during the America Civil War as well.

The Turning Point Of False Teeth

It wasn’t until 1820 that dentures became more common and easier to use. Claudius Ash, a Westminster silver and goldsmith, produced a set of porcelain dentures mounted on gold plates with springs and swivels. He would also produce a cheaper version of these dentures made of a hardened rubber called vulcanite in the 1850’s.