Do you remember the tale about George Washington and his wooden choppers? Not what he used for cutting down cherry trees, but his false teeth.
George's teeth were made of ivory and stained (possibly from cherry juice) that they appeared to be wood. Most Americans might believe those were the earliest dentures; however, the history of dentures goes back to ancient times.
Dentures in Ancient Times
The earliest known dentures ever found consisted of human or animal teeth tied together with wires. Examples of such dentures were found in Egyptian and Mexican archeological sites. Other ancient peoples used carved stones and shells to replace lost teeth. These early dentures came to life for cosmetic purposes for the wearer. The materials used were not likely to stand up to the pressure placed on false teeth during eating.
The earliest surviving set of complete dentures that has ever been found were wood! They were discovered in Japan and date back to the 1500s.
Human and animal teeth continued to be the most used denture supply materials for dentures until the early 20th century in most parts of the world. But the difficulty of obtaining healthy teeth and the risk of disease from using unhealthy teeth led 20th-century dentists to search for other alternative materials.
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