Dentures are a common solution for missing teeth, especially for seniors who do not want implants. These dental appliances have evolved over time; from materials made of ivory from walruses or hippopotamuses to the modern materials in use today.
Before Richmond had its cutting-edge dentures, there were dentures, old and ancient, described below.
Looking Back at George Washington’s Supposed Wooden Teeth
George Washington suffered from dental problems much of his adult life; rumours spread that he wore wooden dentures, however, these were purely gossip. The first United States President is most likely the most famous person to ever wear dentures before they were widely used.
Before Washington’s service in the Revolutionary War, Dr John Baker was the first dentist to install false teeth for the future president of America. He fabricated a partial denture made of ivory, which he wired to the president’s remaining teeth.
When George Washington became president in 1789, he only had one real tooth left. Dr John Greenwood, a former soldier, installed dentures carved out of hippopotamus ivory, and wired gold springs and brass screws to keep the appliance in place.
The Transformation of Dentures
Before George Washington put his first dentures on, the Etruscans in Northern Italy made dentures using animal or human teeth, around 700BC. The materials deteriorated fast, but they were easy to make and remained popular until the 1800s. Dietary changes and the use of sugar sparked a major change in the materials used for making these dental appliances.
In 1820, Claudius Ash, a Westminster gold and silversmith, crafted better dentures using porcelain on an 18-carat gold plate. Before Ash’s new dentures, dentists at the time used real teeth pulled from corpses or executed criminals.
The dentures created by Ash were superior functionally and aesthetically compared to its predecessor. The 1850s saw another improvement in producing dentures as Vulcanite, a type of hardened rubber was the primary place holder of porcelain teeth. At the turn of the 20th century, acrylic resin and plastics were the primary materials used for making these dental appliances.
Modern dentures are unlike its predecessors from a century ago. With the advancements in technology and practices, patients now use false teeth that look exactly like their real teeth.