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    The biggest evolution in dentures is almost here

    With digital dentistry taking the industry by storm, the future of dentures is looking bright.

    Dentures have been replacing human teeth for thousands of years. In the last 80 years, we’ve seen them evolve at a rapid pace. However, with digital dentistry poised to tackle removable full and partial dentures, we might be on the cusp of the most significant evolution in dentures since humans started mounting false teeth in Vulcanite back in the 19th century.

    A brief history of dentures

    Per the History of Dentistry, the earliest dentures were thought to date back to 2500 BC. Found in Mexico, these early dentures were made from the teeth of wolves. In Italy, evidence of dentures made from gold wire and human and animal teeth were found dating back to 700 BC. Archaeologists also found two false teeth made of bone and wrapped in gold wire in a tomb in ancient Egypt.

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    Dental materials didn’t change much in the early days of dentures. Using human teeth pulled from both the dead and living, along with animal teeth, were the first choice for early denturists. The first wooden dentures appeared in Japan in the 16th century, and they were used there until the early 20th century.

    Denturists began to explore other denture materials in the 1700s, including ivory from rhinos, hippos and elephants, and using teeth from cadavers and animals. Ivory remained the popular denture base material for the next 100 years — but only for the wealthiest patients.

    One wealthy recipient of early dentures was former U.S. President George Washington. However, contrary to popular belief, his teeth weren’t made of wood. The base was lead and the teeth were a combination of horse, donkey and human. One of the interesting features was the springs that retained the dentures. President Washington would have had to clench his jaw to keep his mouth closed when he wasn’t eating or speaking.

    One of the foremost contributors to the evolution of denture materials was sugar. The wealthy were losing their teeth quickly as their consumption of sugar rose. Since no restorative dentistry existed in those days, these wealthy dental patients had their teeth pulled and needed replacement teeth.

    There was some experimentation with porcelain teeth in the late 1700s, but extracted human teeth were the preferred replacements. Patients liked them because of their durability and effectiveness for eating.

    DenturesIn 1815, per the BBC,  “Waterloo teeth,” which were teeth pulled from the tens of thousands of soldiers who died in the Battle of Waterloo, were popular and mounted in a base made from animal ivory. Dental technicians at the time would boil the teeth, chop off the roots, and then attach them onto ivory bases. The dentures were held in place by springs, like those used in President Washington’s prosthesis.

    Other sources for human replacement teeth were grave robbers. However, live donors would also sell their teeth for wealthy people’s dentures. Usually the poorest of the poor, the live donors would have their teeth yanked for money — without anesthesia, of course.

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    Dr. Shirin Khoynezhad, director of second-year pre-clinical dentistry at the University of Alabama, is a prosthodontist who lectures on denture materials and CAD/CAM dentures. She compared the process of selling your teeth to organ donation.

    “A lot of slaves or people who needed money used to sell their teeth for making dentures for the wealthy. It was very high-end dentistry to have a denture in those days, a luxury,” Dr. Khoynezhad says.

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