A Brief History of Dentures & What They Are Made Of

A Brief History of Dentures & What They Are Made Of

If you have dentures you may be curious to know more about this great tooth replacement option. Today our Surrey dentists tell you a little about the history of dentures and what they are made of.


Dentures - A Brief History

Throughout recorded history humans have used dentures to restore the function and appearance of their smile. Dentures have helped not only to make people feel more confident about their smile, but also to assist in correct chewing and speech. Here is how dentures began and how they have improved over the centuries:

Early Dentures

In northern Italy, around 700 BC, people constructed dentures out of a mixture of human and animal teeth.

Dentures in the 1700s

Popular with those who could afford them, in the 1700's, dentures were carved out of elephant, hippopotamus, or walrus ivory. 

It is rumoured that George Washington had some of the highest quality dentures of his time. His dentures are said to have been made from carved hippopotamus ivory imbedded with a collection of donkey, horse, and human teeth. 

Dentures in the 1800s

Porcelain teeth mounted onto 18-karat gold plates were created by Claudius Ash, for his ultra rich clients in the 1800's. Later Ash went on to create more affordable dentures made from hardened rubber with porcelain teeth. 

Dentures Today

Denture technology has come a long way since the days of gold plates and donkey teeth! Today's dentures look and feel more natural than ever.

Materials such as acrylic resin or porcelain have replaced the animal teeth and the days of gold plates are long gone.

Porcelain Dentures

Porcelain gives artificial teeth a very natural look and feel. Dentures with porcelain teeth offer a number of benefits: 

  • A translucent appearance which gives the dentures a natural look.
  • Porcelain teeth feel more natural than acrylic resin teeth, making them somewhat easier to adjust to.
  • Porcelain teeth are very hard and long lasting.

That said, there are drawbacks to porcelain dentures. Compared to acrylic resin teeth, porcelain teeth are much more fragile and 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. These dentures tend to be used predominantly for full jaw tooth replacements because porcelain teeth can cause natural teeth that bite against them to wear down. 

Acrylic Resin Teeth

Acrylic dentures offer the benefits of being less expensive and lighter than dentures made from porcelain, offering patients a comfortable and cost effective way to replace missing teeth. 

One drawback of acrylic resin dentures is that these dentures tend to wear faster than dentures with porcelain teeth. If cared for properly, you can expect acrylic dentures to last approximately 5-8 years, at which time they will need to be replaced.

The Denture Plate

The denture plate is the part of the dentures that holds the teeth in place and rests on the gums.

Thankfully 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. 

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. These denture plates are most often used for partial dentures where the plate is hidden behind remaining natural teeth. 

If you think dentures may be the right tooth replacement option for you, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly Surrey dentists.

Contact ProActive Dental Studio today, and get on the path to a brighter, healthier smile!