If you badly need dentures but your only choice is to wear a set made of dead people’s teeth, would you do it?
Crafted at high-tech, sanitary dental laboratories, with ceramic, porcelain, and other advanced materials, today’s solutions for restoring smiles look pretty natural. Historians say, however, that 18th and 19th-century dentists made dentures out of unusual materials, including teeth extracted from fallen Waterloo soldiers.
Dead Person’s Teeth
In the past, everyone from jewelers to wig makers and blacksmiths dabbled in dentistry. As early ‘dental experts’ had little knowledge about proper dental care, their best option was to pull the teeth. As dentures grew in demand, people started using human teeth to make them.
An advertisement that was part of a collection curated by historians, for instance, showed that dentists bought foreign teeth. They would then rivet these into ivory bases to make dentures.
Since the number of donors was finite, they still could not keep up with the demand. For this reason, after the battle of Waterloo, locals, junkyard workers, and surviving soldiers pulled teeth off of dead troopers and sold them to early dentists.
Wood and Ivory
Dentures made of wood were not popular in history as the saliva tends to affect the material and make the wood mushy after some time. The oldest known pair of dentures, however, was made of wood. Created in Japan, historians believed that the first-ever wooden teeth belonged to a priestess from the Ganjyoji Temple.
People also thought that US President George Washington wore dentures made of wood. This, however, was just a myth. As a matter of fact, the former president wore one of the first ivory dentures. His dentist made him a set of false teeth carved from hippopotamus ivory. As he had only one natural tooth left by the time he needed dentures, the dentist left a hole in the denture to accommodate the remaining tooth.
When it comes to keeping a perfect smile, nothing beats proper dental care, including regular visits to the dentist. Luckily for those who need solutions to tooth loss today, they need not resort to dead people’s teeth or wood. Current dentists can create dentures that not only look natural but are also comfortable to wear.