Lifelike in Form and Function

Dental Lab Products, Dental Lab Products June 2021, Volume 43, Issue 3

The successful prosthetic tooth performs a delicate act of balancing bond strength, wear resistance, esthetics, and occlusion with natural teeth. Dental laboratories seek highly wear-resistant, highly esthetic teeth for implant and premium cases. Historically, this wasn’t always the case, as material options were severely limited.

The first denture teeth can be traced to 700 BC when the Etruscans fabricated the first false teeth from animal teeth.1 This standard did not change much until the 18th century, when hippopotamus, walrus, and elephant ivory became common.1

In the 1770s, French dentists turned to porcelain, which was handpainted to give the appearance of natural teeth.1 Unfortunately, these dentures lacked esthetics and were too brittle.1

While porcelain denture teeth aimed to offer a more durable material, human teeth were still widely used during this period. So-called Waterloo teeth were dentures fabricated from the teeth of dead soldiers left on the battlefield.2 This was common in the early 19th century but was still practiced through the 1860s, during the Civil War.2

Dental laboratory technicians today have a variety of teeth sizes, shapes, and shades to choose from. Here, we present 15 of the industry’s denture teeth offerings.


  1. Elsenpeter R. The fascinating history of dentures. Dental Products Report®. October 16, 2018. Accessed May 25, 2021.
  2. Waterloo teeth. The British Dental Association. Accessed May 25, 2021.