First Dentures-Made of Wood?
Remember hearing about George Washington and his wooden choppers? Not his tools for cutting down cherry trees, but his false teeth. Actually, George’s teeth were made of ivory but were so stained that they appeared to be made out of wood. You might think those were the earliest dentures. In fact, the history of false teeth goes back centuries before President Washington.
The earliest known dentures consisted of human or animal teeth tied together with wires. Examples. of such dentures have been found in Egyptian and Mexican archaeological sites. Other ancient people used carved stones and shells to replace lost teeth. These early dentures were probably made for cosmetic purposes. The materials they used were not likely to stand up to the pressure placed on teeth during eating.
The earliest surviving set of complete dentures were actually made out of wood. They were found in Japan and date back to the 16th Century.
In the 18th century, dentist began using porcelain, ivory, gold, silver and even rubber as tooth substitutes. Dentures made with these substances could be used in eating. They were often ill-fitting, however which may explain why George Washington looks puffy and glum in portraits.
Porcelain and metals were most popular denture material until about 1950, when plastics and resins were developed. Tough and durable these materials make up most of the dentures that Dr. Jones and our team use today.
Still, what goes around comes around. Researchers are looking to at using human teeth for dentures once again. Only in this case, the researchers hope to use biotechnology to spur the growth of new sets of teeth to replace those lost over a lifetime.