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Around 700BC, Etruscans in northern Italy made dentures out of human or other animal teeth. These deteriorated quickly but, being easy to produce, were popular until the mid 19th century.
The oldest useful complete denture appeared in Japan, and has been traced to the ganjyoji temple in Kii Province, Japan. It was a wooden denture made of Buxus microphylla, and used by Nakaoka Tei (–20 April 1538). This wooden denture had almost the same shape as modern dentures retained by suction. It also shaped to cover each condition of teeth loss. Wooden dentures were used in Japan up until the Meiji period.
London's Peter de la Roche is believed to be one of the first 'Operators for the Teeth', men who fashioned themselves as specialists in dental work. Often these men were professional goldsmiths, ivory turners or students of barber-surgeons.
The first porcelain dentures were made around 1770 by Alexis Duchâteau. In 1791 the first British patent was granted to Nicholas Dubois De Chemant, previous assistant to Duchateau, for "De Chemant's Specification", "a composition for the purpose of making of artificial teeth either single double or in rows or in complete sets and also springs for fastening or affixing the same in a more easy and effectual manner than any hitherto discovered which said teeth may be made of any shade or colour, which they will retain for any length of time and will consequently more perfectly resemble the natural teeth." He began selling his wares in 1792 with most of his porcelain paste supplied by Wedgwood.
In London in 1820, Claudius Ash, a goldsmith by trade, began manufacturing high-quality porcelain dentures mounted on 18-carat gold plates. Later dentures were made of Vulcanite from the 1850s on, a form of hardened rubber (Claudius Ash’s company was the leading European manufacturer of dental Vulcanite) into which porcelain teeth were set, and then, in the 20th century, acrylic resin and other plastics. In Britain in 1968 79% of those aged 65–74 had no natural teeth, by 1998 this proportion had fallen to 36%.