On June 9, 1822, the first patent for false teeth was given to Charles Graham of New York. Before modern dentistry, rotten teeth were much more common –fluoride mouthwash really DOES make a difference! Since dental drills and fillings weren’t available, and an infected tooth could lead to serious illness or even death, rotting teeth had to be pulled out entirely. Thankfully, dental science has advanced by leaps and bounds. Scientists have even modified the genetic code of a bacteria that lives in our mouths in order to reduce the amount of harmful acid it produces!
Of course, false teeth can be found much farther back on the calendar than the 1800s, and continue to be used to this day. The ancient Romans had false teeth, as well as toothbrushes and tooth powder, a precursor to modern toothpaste.
Paul Revere, an artisan best known for his famed Midnight Ride to warn the colonial army of approaching British soldiers, was also a dentist. He boasted that his false teeth were beautiful as well as functional. Revere carved his false teeth out of hippopotamus tusks, which was the same material as one of George Washington’s many sets of dentures!
In the past, false teeth were often made of animal bones or ivory, but real human teeth were also available. These teeth would come from cadavers, or even from poor people who pulled out their own teeth in order to sell them! Today, the process of making dentures is much more scientific, not to mention hygienic. The false teeth are made by highly skilled technicians and dentists, who use a series of precise molds to ensure that each piece will fit perfectly into the patient’s mouth. And don’t worry: These days, false teeth are made of acrylic!
Getting to talk, eat, and look the way you used to if you have to lose some or even all of your teeth? Definitely cool.