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The Long & Amazing History of Dentures March 13, 2018

Lake Murray, Lexington
The Long & Amazing History of Dentures, Lexington, South Carolina

The fact that George Washington wore dentures is common knowledge. But just how long have humans been using false teeth? You might be surprised to learn that people have been enjoying them for thousands of years. Here’s a brief look at the interesting and surprising history of these essential dental appliances.

A Glimpse at the History of Dentures

1. Early History

When the ancestors made the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers, the increased intake of carbohydrates resulted in tooth decay and the need for dental care solutions. The earliest dentures can be traced back to the Etruscans in 7th century B.C., and they were typically fabricated from animal or human teeth. Wooden dentures were used in Asia in the 16th century, but ivory models also remained popular well into the 1700s. In fact, George Washington’s famously false teeth were not wooden, as often misreported, but rather made from the tusks of hippos and elephants.

2. The Invention of Porcelain Dentures

dentistIvory dentures were prone to rotting, so dentists began to look for more long-lasting materials. In the 1770s, the first porcelain dentures were created. Early versions chipped easily and looked unnaturally white, but improvements over time made them stronger and better looking. By the turn of the 20th century, dentists were using a variety of synthetic materials to fabricate false teeth, including vulcanite and celluloid. During this time, the availability of and use of sugar increased dramatically across the Western world, resulting in much higher rates of tooth decay. As a result, more people than ever were finding themselves in need of quality dentures.

3. Modern Dentures 

In the late 1930s, polymethylmethacrylate, also known as PMMA or acrylic resin, became the standard material for manufacturing dentures. It’s still the most commonly used today. Modern false teeth are highly individualized for each patient. Dentists take detailed impressions to create a custom shape, fit, and color, with the final set created by a sophisticated dental laboratory. The result is replacement teeth that have a look, feel, and function that’s very comfortable and natural.


Missing teeth can have a dramatically negative effect on your quality of life and self-esteem. Restore your smile today by contacting the office of Dr. Charles Bumgardner, DMD in Lexington, SC. Whether you need full dentures, dental implants, or a simple bridge, Dr. Bumgardner will help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. To make an appointment, call (803) 356-6030 or visit their website to find out more.

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