Today we have several options for false teeth which function and look just like real teeth. In the past, not so much. Learn a little more about the creative, and sometimes gross, methods people used to replace missing teeth.
A Little Wire Can Fix Anything
Ancient Egypt invented most everything, including false teeth. In 1500 B.C. they would take human teeth (usually not their own) and thread them with gold wire. They used this wire to attach the teeth inside the mouth.
You’re An Animal!
The Italians living around 700 B.C. used gold wire to attach false teeth as well. However, they used animal teeth along with human teeth. Ancient tribes in Mexico also filled empty tooth sockets with animal teeth, often using the teeth of a wolf.
The Rocky Road Of Mayan Dentistry
Many think that dental implants are the cutting edge of modern dentistry; however, the Mayan civilization used them first. Around 600 A.D., they would put pieces of bone, seashells, and even carved rocks in a tooth socket. The jaw bone would grow around these materials, just like it does for dental implants today.
Washington’s Not-So-Wooden Teeth
Everyone believes that George Washington had wooden teeth, but this is actually a myth. Ivory was the norm for false teeth in the 1700’s, so Washington’s teeth were made of ivory along with human and animal teeth.
Why Have Pearly Whites When You Could Have Porcelain Whites
Porcelain dentures were first created by physician Alexis Duchateau in 1774 Britain. However, these teeth not only chipped very easily, but were too white to look natural. Despite this, Duchateau’s apprentice Nicholas Dubois De Chemant took out a patent for dentures in 1791.
In 1815, the Battle of Waterloo left over 50,000 dead soldiers, which left over 1,600,000 teeth no one was using anymore. The people of Belgium collected these teeth and sold them to England, shipping them over in barrels. It actually became popular to have “Waterloo Teeth” replace missing ones.
Finally, Normal Dentures
Claudius Ash is credited for creating the dentures that would be the turning point for false teeth in 1820. He mounted porcelain dentures onto gold plates complete with swivels and springs. In later years, Ash would create a cheaper set of dentures from a hardened rubber called vulcanite.