When you get and your teeth start falling out, you probably would want to get a set of replacements for them so that you may want to look aesthetically pleasant when posing for pictures. Back in ancient times, people had the same issue. But without the knowledge and technology we have now, how were they able to make their dentures?
According to historian Scott Swank, who curates the National Museum of Dentistry, numerous examples of dental restoration may be found even earlier in history, but they don’t quite qualify as actual dentures. For example, ancient Egyptians developed bridgework to substitute missing teeth, using gold wire affixed to neighboring teeth to hold one or two false teeth in place—usually ones carved from hippopotamus ivory, or donated by another human.
In ancient Italy, the Etruscans used similar methods, as did the Romans who succeeded them. Bridges were formed from metal and ivory, bone, or whole human and animal teeth, Swank said, and archaeological remains show that an implant made out of lead was used in at least one case. “Researchers said there was actually some bone-healing around it, though I can’t imagine what that healing process was like.”
By the 1100s or so, however, humankind was ready to make the leap to full-on dentures; at least, in some corners of the globe. Around this time, Swank said, what historians generally accept as the first-ever dentures began appearing in China and Japan, though few examples from the early Middle Ages survive today.
(Image credit: The Wellcome Collection via Gizmodo)