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How Dentures Have Changed Over the Years

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How Dentures Have Changed Over the Years

If you're about to get new dentures, you may be curious about the evolution of these natural looking tooth replacements. Here our Langley dentists share a little about the history of dentures, how they started and what they are made of now.

The History of Dentures

Throughout history humans have used dentures to restore the function and appearance of their smile. Dentures have always helped people to feel more confident about their smile as well as improve their ability to chew and speak clearly. So, how have dentures changed and  improved over the centuries?

  • Way back, around 700 BC in northern Italy, people constructed dentures out of a mixture of human and animal teeth.
  • By the time the 1700's rolled around, dentures were often carved out of elephant, hippopotamus, or walrus ivory. These dentures were a popular way to replace missing teeth for those who could afford them. 
  • In the last quarter of the 1700s it's rumoured that George Washington had some of the highest quality dentures available. It is believed that his dentures were made from carved hippopotamus ivory imbedded with a collection of donkey, horse, and human teeth.
  • 18-karat gold plates inlaid with porcelain teeth were created by Claudius Ash, for his rich clients in the 1800's. Later in the century, Ash went on to create more affordable dentures made from hardened rubber with porcelain teeth. 

Dentures Today

Denture technology has certainly come a long way since those early days! Today's dentures give a more natural look, feel and function than ever. Gone are the animal teeth and gold plates, today's dentures are typically made from materials such as metal, acrylic resin, and porcelain.

Porcelain Dentures

Porcelain gives artificial teeth a very natural look and feel. Dentures with porcelain teeth offer a number of benefits: 

  • A translucent appearance which gives the dentures a natural look.
  • Porcelain teeth feel more natural than acrylic resin teeth, making them somewhat easier to adjust to.
  • Porcelain teeth are very hard and long lasting.

Nonetheless, there are drawbacks to porcelain dentures:

  • Compared to acrylic resin teeth, porcelain teeth are much more fragile and easily broken or chipped if dropped on a hard surface.
  • The extremely hard nature of porcelain dentures means that they can cause natural teeth which bite against them to wear down quickly.

Acrylic Resin Dentures

Acrylic dentures also offer a number of benefits such as:

  • Acrylic teeth are typically less expensive compared to porcelain dentures.
  • Dentures created from acrylic resin are lighter than dentures made from porcelain.

Unfortunately these dentures tend to wear much faster than dentures with porcelain teeth. That said, if acrylic dentures are cared for properly, you can expect them to last about 5-8 years, at which time they will need to be replaced.

Denture Plates

The denture plate is the part of the dentures that holds the teeth in place and rests on the gums. No longer carved out of ivory or formed out of gold, today's plates can be made from a range of different materials, including rigid acrylic resin, flexible (nylon) polymer, or cobalt metal. 

  • Acrylic denture plates are designed with an artificial gum line, tinted to look just like the natural gums.
  • Metal denture plates can be a more durable option and may offer a better fit than acrylic resin plates. Metal denture plates are most often used for partial dentures where the plate is hidden behind remaining natural teeth. 

If you think dentures may be the right tooth replacement option for you, contact Willowbrook Dental Clinic in Langley today to schedule a consultation.

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