What is the history of false teeth?

As humans have always lost their teeth, so they have had to find ways to cope with it and create substitutes so that the mouth may function as intended.

Very early false teeth were not really false teeth at all because patients who had lost teeth would simply use other human teeth or animal teeth as replacements. The earliest records of such a practice have been found in Northern Italy as long as ago as 700 BC. These would wear down quickly because teeth do not survive as long, structurally, if they are disconnected from bodily processes. Given the comparative ease of using this method, it was popular right through to the nineteenth century.

Complete dentures have been found in Japan, dating from the sixteenth century. These wooden devices were surprisingly advanced and it is believed they were constructed to be able to be held in place through the suction of the gums, just as modern dentures can be.

It was in the eighteenth century that dentures started to become more commonplace in Europe and North America. President George Washington famously wore a complete set of dentures made from hippopotamus ivory. Pioneers such as Peter de la Roche, Alexis Duchateau and, later, Claudius Ash began crafting high-quality sets of porcelain dentures, sometimes mounted on gold, as was the fashion at the time.

By the twentieth century false teeth became widely available and were usually made from porcelain. Nowadays acrylic tends to be used because it absorbs to impact of chewing better than porcelain and has less deleterious effect on the gum, especially if as part of a denture.

The uses of false teeth expanded in the twentieth century too with dental experts finding different ways for false teeth to be placed into the mouth, rather than simply as a set of dentures. They can be secured using dental implants now or attached to surrounding teeth in what's known as a 'bridge'