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Bruce E. Treiber, DDS

History of Dental Bridges

By Dr. Treiber on December 05, 2018

A dental bridge to replace missing teethIf you’re missing a tooth or multiple teeth, there are plenty of options to fill gaps and restore the appearance and function of your smile. Advanced restorative dentistry options such as dentures and dental bridges help countless people bite, chew, and go about their day. It’s fascinating to consider how these common dental appliances developed and evolved over hundreds of years of human ingenuity.

Dr. Bruce E. Treiber and his Canton, OH dental care team would like to consider how the dental bridge as we know it came to be. To trace the history of dental bridges, we need to note the evolution of both dentures and dental crowns. With that in mind, let’s consider how these dental appliances began.

Early Attempts at Treating Tooth Loss

Some of the first examples of dental crowns can be found in Asia 4,000 years ago. On the island of Luzon, skeletons that date back four millennia were found to have gold caps/crowns on their teeth.

As for dental innovations in Europe, both dentures and crowns can be traced to the Etruscans in ancient Italy. In 700 BC, the Etruscans created false teeth using ivory. Human teeth or animal teeth would be set into the ivory to help create sets of false teeth. Etruscans also used gold dental crowns around this time.

Wooden False Teeth

Wood offers another option treating tooth loss with a readily available material. Some of the first wooden false teeth were found in Japan in the 16th century. Using beeswax to make take impressions, the wooden bases of these front teeth were ideal for supporting human teeth, animal teeth, and ivory teeth.

Global trade and exploration brought these wooden false teeth to the western world. That said, George Washington’s famous sets of false teeth weren’t wood at all. Instead, President Washington relied on various sets of ivory false teeth.

The Morbid Case of Waterloo Teeth

Since human teeth were commonly used in wooden and ivory dentures, we should note a morbid part of dental history. Following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, thousands of dead soldiers’ bodies were raided for their teeth to be used in dentures.

Ivory and Porcelain as Dental Materials

Both ivory and porcelain were becoming more popular as dental care materials during the 1700s and 1800s. While porcelain dates back to roughly the 3rd century in China, it was first used in dental care around the 1700s in France. It was too fragile at the time, but refinements in durability in the 1800s increased porcelain’s viability and popularity.

The First Jacket Crowns

The first jacket crowns (crowns that cap a tooth’s structure) were created by Charles H. Land in the late 1800s. These kinds of porcelain crowns were refined by E.B. Paulding, and remained quite popular during the first half of the 20th century. Unfortunately, these early types of crowns were prone to cracking due to the way they were fabricated.

Advances in Materials in the 1950s

Corning Glass Works took the old jacket crowns and developed Decor crowns, which were more durable and held in place with zinc phosphate. Unfortunately, these types of crowns were prone to falling out.

New Innovations and Materials in the 1990s

In the 1990s, the first dental crowns made without metal were developed, and were infused with glass. Zirconia also became a popular material for crowns and bridges, adding to the durability and aesthetic improvements over time.

Learn More About Dental Bridges

For more information about dental bridges and whether or not they are a good option for you and your needs, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic and restorative dentist. Dr. Bruce E. Treiber will be more than happy to answer all of your questions and concerns. You can reach our dental office by phone at (330) 478-4949.

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