Menu Icon Email Icon Location Icon Login Icon Phone Icon Quote Icon Full Quote Icon Info Directions Phone Menu Expand Menu Collapsed Close Close Profile Corner Consultation Checkbox Off Consultation Checkbox On Consultation Radio On Consultation Radio Off Consultation Add Field Consultation Remove Field Office Tour Icon

Dentistry Memphis

The History of Dental Bridges and Dentures

Photo of broken partial denture on plain white surfaceIf you have missing teeth, you understand the many challenges that accompany this condition. Our ancient ancestors understood as well; as long as there have been people on earth, there have been attempts to replace missing teeth. Of course, some methods are more archaic than others.

Today, our Memphis, TN team discusses a brief history of dental bridges and dentures and explains the many milestones that are responsible for the high-quality restorations we use today.

At Southwind Dental Care, we offer a wide range of restorative treatments, including dental bridges, dentures, and dental implants. Read on to learn more about the beginnings of these innovations.

Ancient China

Approximately 4,000 years ago, the ancient Chinese used carved bamboo pegs to replace missing teeth. In fact, there were many civilizations around the world that used wood, stone, gems, and seashells to complete smiles.

Ancient Egypt

Around 1500 BC, the Egyptians replaced missing teeth by threading artificial teeth together with gold or silver wire. They would then place the apparatus inside the mouth and secure it to the adjacent teeth. While these helped enhance the smile’s appearance, they did nothing to improve function.

Ancient Italy

In the 7th century BC, northern Italians (known as the Etruscans) created the first dentures. These appliances were created with human or animal teeth, which were held together with gold bands. Two centuries later, the Romans had adopted this technique.

Some civilizations actually used extracted teeth from animals or humans to replace their own. Archaeological evidence suggests that tribes in Mexico placed wolf teeth into the sockets left behind by their own damaged teeth. As one can imagine, this type of teeth replacement led to a host of complications, including severe infections.

Human Teeth as Marketable Goods

Despite the infection issues associated with replacement using human and animal teeth, this practice remained in effect all the way into the 18th century.

In fact, it became so popular among the elite that individuals resorted to graverobbing to obtain the teeth. In addition, poor people began selling their own teeth to make a profit.

George Washington’s False Teeth

You have likely heard the stories of George Washington’s wooden teeth. You may be surprised to learn his teeth were not wooden at all.

In fact, Washington had several sets of dentures throughout his lifetime, including a set made from human and donkey teeth. When he was elected into office, he wore a prosthesis crafted from hippopotamus ivory.

The Introduction of Porcelain

By the 19th century, dental restorations could be crafted from porcelain. Of course, during this time, porcelain was so white that these bridges and dentures appeared unnatural. They also fractured easily, as advanced dental ceramics had not been invented yet.

Modern Bridges and Dentures

During the 20th century, experts discovered ways to make dental ceramics strong and resilient. While porcelain became the norm for dental bridges, the go-to material for dentures became acrylic resin (and it is still widely used today).

Modern dentistry has come a long way since the early days of man. At our dental practice, we offer both traditional and implant-supported bridges and dentures. These restorations look and feel natural and lifelike.

Contact Us to Learn More

If missing teeth are preventing you from living the life you desire, consider what teeth replacement can do for you. To explore your options, schedule a visit at Southwind Dental Care by calling (901) 751-1260.

Tagged In: Dental Bridges, Dentures

Contact Us

I have been to several dentists in the Memphis Area and I have finally found THE ONE!! Dr. Messer is the best dentist I have ever been to. I have complete confidence in any procedure that he performs and I can't imagine ever going to any other dentist.

-Meredith Page B.