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The Social History Of False Teeth

Posted by: Purrfect Dential

The Social History Of False Teeth

This is a story of the social and health problems people have always had because our teeth need constant care. Mankind has always been troubled by toothache pain and a wide variety of problems with natural teeth. Five thousand years ago the Babylonians recorded their attempts to make false teeth. Some of their toothache treatments included prayers and incantations.. In fact, the social history of false teeth goes all the way back to the Bronze Age. Skulls were found from that time period with the remains of false teeth in them made of flint and shells. The ancient Greeks designed special kinds of pliers for tooth extraction. They even had a mouthwash made of castoreum and pepper to be used to prevent tooth decay. It is known that the rich Etruscans were quite proud of their gold-banded sets of human teeth. The human teeth used to make those sets of false teeth were teeth recently bought and pulled from poor people who sold their healthy teeth to buy food and other necessities of life.

The first sets of false teeth looked nothing like those of today. They were usually made of carved: hard wood, walrus ivory or animal bones and were held in place with either wire or silk thread. We are told Elizabeth I used rolls of cloth in her mouth to fill in the hollows in her face that were caused by the loss of her natural teeth. There was a Lord Palmerston who constantly worried that his ill-fitting false teeth would just pop out of his mouth unexpectedly. The story is told of President Grant, who, while on a world cruise on the presidential yacht, lost his false teeth overboard and so was unable to make a series of speeches he had planned to deliver.

Most false teeth wearers of about one hundred years ago removed their false teeth while eating. In fact, they did all of their eating while hiding in a bedroom and only wore their false teeth when out in public. This was because false teeth in those days were not made for eating but instead they were used to simply provide a way to make people look and talk better.

George Washington’s natural teeth were always soft and prone to decay. He struggled with bad teeth and toothache for most of his life. It is said he tested and wore many different sets of primitive false teeth from age 22 until his death. If you will look closely at his portrait on today’s dollar bill, you will notice he is not smiling. The portrait artist had him stuff cotton behind his lips to make him look much better in the final painting.

The first “dentists” (a term not used until many years later) to deal with the dental problems of people, beginning in 15th century in England, were barbers who later became known as barber-surgeons. Back then they were called “drawers of teeth” or “tooth drawers.” They did their extractions in stalls in the public market. General practice was to either tie the patient in a chair or simply do their pulling and filling while straddling the patient who was forced to lie on the ground.

Over the years since then, many improvements have been made such as: better ways to measure the mouth for more stable false teeth. There were also improved ways of cleaning and filling teeth, improvements in materials used to make the actual teeth – such as porcelain instead of wood, bone or ivory. In the early days coil springs were often used in uppers and lowers to make it easier for wearers to chew food while wearing those very heavy false teeth. Later it was discovered that suction in the roof of the mouth could be utilized to give greater stability to the structure that holds the false teeth in the mouth (now called: a dental plate).

A major discovery in the 1800s was the use of laughing gas (nitrous oxide) as the standard anesthesia to eliminate most of the pain associated with dental surgery and routine care of teeth. Anesthesia by inhaling was discovered in 1844 by Horace Wells who was a young dentist is Hartford, Connecticut. He refused to patent the idea and made it available he said: “for the good of all.”

One of the first quite successful materials used to hold false teeth securely in the mouth, as a dental plate, was Vulcanite made by Goodyear Rubber Company. But it was slightly porous, hard to clean, retained the taste of certain foods and often caused soreness of the gums. Other materials used with varying degrees of success were: gold, Celluloid and of course, the present day acrylic resins.

After much study and analysis of the problems people have with dentures, dentists have concluded that to be successful and comfortable a modern denture needs to have: stability, support and a reliable means of retention.

Everyone who wears dentures (false teeth) understands that their denture needs to get basic support from their gums and jawbones. They also know stability of the denture is needed so it does not move side-to-side or front to back. They are also aware that the suction or surface tension provided by the roof of the mouth is a basic need of those who want to wear a denture that is comfortable when speaking and eating. These three basic considerations, when properly achieved, will provide the wearer with dentures that are kept securely in place while chewing food and talking. In addition, by doing what is needed to stop denture movement the wearer feels much more confidant and trusting of his denture’s ability to stay in place. In this way the wearer can successfully eliminate any loose denture embarrassment while eating and talking – anywhere.

Today, It is understood by dentists that the gums and bones of the mouth always shrink and gradually change shape over time after the natural teeth are removed, These shrinkage changes happen gradually and the result is dentures made to fit quite well when new, will slowly lose their stability, support and retention qualities, all of which are basic needs for the wearer’s continued comfort.

Therefore, after a period of time – approximately one or two years after teeth are extracted and dentures are put in place – adjustments are needed to again make the denture: stable, supported and retained properly. One-way to do this is to have a dentist re-line the inside of the dental plate with more acrylic material. In this way the gaps are filled and the loose denture regains its original tight feeling. Another, less expensive method of re-lining a denture is to put an always soft, always flexible liner material on the inside (top) of the denture. This way of solving the problem comes in a do it yourself kit. It is an easy way of re-lining a denture that can be done at home with a new (Patent Pending) kit called Weber Denture Liner Kit.

The dental profession has studied the how and why of dental problems for many years with the result that there are now hundreds of radically improved methods and materials available to make top quality false teeth for those in need today.

When we look back at those first attempts to make false teeth many centuries ago, we should be glad to be alive today and not have to suffer the dental problems of the 15th century.

You can find out more about my invention to help false teeth and denture wearers on the website listed below.

Terry Weber is a retired advertising/direct mail sales letter copywriter and inventor of several useful items. Terry and his wife Doris are Habitat For Humanity, RV Care-A-Vanners who, for the past eight years have volunteered to help build more than 39 houses all over the USA. They travel to and from the 2-week long builds in their RV. The money they make on their website helps them pay their expenses to and from those volunteer Habitat builds. Website:

P.S. Due to the high cost of gasoline and health problems we can no longer drive the RV to Habitat builds. The RV is parked until gasoline prices come down.

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