We all know what dentures look like! but do we know the history of dentures? Click below to find out more.
The first set of Dentures was made by Etruscan people living in Etruria (Umbria and Tuscany, Italy), from 700 BCE onwards. Teeth was used from other humans or animals and was inserted and pinned together via a gold band with a metal pin and fitted onto the remaining teeth, this option was expensive and only for the wealthy.
In the early 1600s, the first set of complete type dentures was invented in Japan and was constructed out of wood. The first type of functional dentures was completely made out of wood and later introduced the use of ivory and animal horn. Animal's such as the hippopotamus and elephant ivory was carved into dentures to replace full sets of teeth, over time the ivory, became stained and gave off a foul smell and were uncomfortable to wear.
In the 1700's, John Hunter, attempted to transplant human teeth into a comb of a rooster. Studies showed this was unsuccessful although the tooth was firmly implanted in the rooster, it did not work for humans. Although it was considered unsuccessful it created principles for future implantation. Around the 1770s, Alexis Duchâtea created the first set of porcelain dentures.
In the early 1800s a major source was scavenged via dead soldiers in the battle fields in Europe following the Battle of Waterloo, in 1815 dentures were made with the dead soldiers teeth and was classed as Waterloo Teeth.
In the 1840s to 1850s, the Goodyear family invented and developed a material that was used for the bases of dentures called Vulcanite, a hardened rubber material . Vulcanite`s properties allowed the material to be easily mouldable to a humans gums and harden without losing the shape of the gums. This was considered a cheaper option than gold denture bases which made dentures affordable for all humans.
In 1880, John Hayatt discovered a substitute material for Vulcanite called Celluloid, this was unsuccessful due to its absorption of stains, odours and the dentures colour changing to a black colour and being highly flammable. In 1901 Dr. Otto Rohn prepared studies on a new material called Poly Methyl Methacrylate. In 1909 Dr. Leo Bakeland discovered Phenol-Formaldehyde Resin (Bakelite) but was unsuccessful due its unstable dimensional properties and lack of uniformity.
In 1937 Dr. Walter H Wright presented the studies of the use of Poly Methyl Methacrylate Resin as a denture base to the National Society of Denture Prosthetics in America. Since that time, the resin has almost replaced any other type of material used for denture bases.
In the United Kingdom, dentures became widely available on the NHS. By 1951 the demand for dentures was high, due to the increase, a fee was introduced which made dentures the first item that had to be paid for on the NHS system.
By the 1950s the basis of denture construction was evident but there was no guidance on making dentures natural looking, unique, aesthetically pleasing, comfortable and functional that restored physical appearance with natural looking teeth, tooth positioning and natural gum contour.
In 1951 Dr. John P. Frush, a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, travelled to Switzerland to attend a postgraduate course in complete prosthodontics where he learnt about new procedures and products to restore the natural appearance of edentolous patients.
1 year later Dr. Frush landed exclusive distribution rights from Candulor AG to distribute their Swiss line of denture teeth in North America. Candulor sponsored Dr. Frush on this course and manufactured the most natural looking denture teeth Dr. Frush had ever seen. He then made a deal with Candulor to privatise a line of porcelain teeth under his company, Swissedent called the Swissedent 900 Series.
Dr. Frush later developed and patented macroscopic colour changes in the anterior porcelain denture teeth, which occur in natural dentition as a result of progressive incisial wear and pigmental penetration as a result of facial cracks in the enamel of the central incisor teeth which also included the blueish incisal edges of the lateral incisors. This became known as the physiologic colour combination, derived from the study of natural dentition.
Dr. Frush was a true visionary and wanted to change the denture industry beyond the sales of Swissedent teeth. He needed to develop the tools to go along with the Swissedent teeth to educate his fellow Dentists so they could also develop a more natural looking denture which also gave him ideas of developing a new form of denture occlusion designed for edentulous patients which Dr. Frush spent six years researching and developing.
From his clinical research he found most denture wearers suffered with the stability of the lower denture, which was caused by opposing forces, created by the cusp occlusion. Monoplane occlusion was only used by a small number of Dentists due to its lack of bilateral balance and problems with functional mastication. After six years Dr. Frush approached Candulor to produce Centrimatic posterior teeth under the name Swissedent 900 series that had bilateral balancing throughout all function and eliminated all interceptions and inclined planes that created the instabilities.
Dr. Frush then formed the Swissedent Foundation and a educational part of his company to help fellow dental professionals. He produced a series of six articles for the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry on the Swissedent Technology between 1956 and 1958. The articles became the required reading for Dental students in most Dental schools and gave over 300 courses on Swissedent protocols to graduate Dentists and Dental Technicians, 50+ years later these principles have been at the forefront of most premium denture systems with only the aesthetical part changing.
In 1960 he developed a device that made the anterior moulds more aesthetically pleasing and unique to the individual called the Alameter, along side other devices developed called the Papillameter, Rim Former and Esthetic Control Base. The Alameter was developed from studies that showed 96% of human noses where the same width as the four front anteriors. The Papillameter was developed to determine the distance in length from the incisive papilla to the upper lip at rest, which established how much tooth should be showed when the patient was relaxed. All of the devices developed is used to determine the optimum mould for the patient as well as the natural independent positioning of the anterior teeth according the age, sex and other factors of the patients.
In 1987, the Swissedent Corporation was sold to the John Ness of the Productivity Training Corporation (PTC) with conditions that Dr. Frush retained ownership of the Accu-Dent Reasearch & Development. Mr. Ness was the founder of the Productivity Training Corporation and was well known for his ability to develop techniques that were easily understandable and transferable to other Dental Technicians.
In the 1980s Mr. Collin Lee a Qualified Dental Technician who owned one of the biggest and successful Dental Laboratories in the U.K, obtained exclusive rights to distribute the PTC system in the United Kingdom .
In the late 1980s a group was formed in the United Kingdom called the Private Prosthetics Group, which included Mr. Collin Lee, Mr. John Gerrard, a Qualified Dental Technician from London and Professor J. Fraser McCord, a graduate from Edinburgh University in 1970. PPG's passion was to create natural looking dentures and welcomed the Swissedent system. Professor J. Fraser McCord provided articles, lectures and courses in the United Kingdom on the Swissedent System for other Dentists and Dental Technicians. 30+ years on and the articles are still required reading material for many Dentists, Dental Technicians & Clinical Dental Technicians (Denturists).
In 1992, PTC had lost the right to sell the Swiss Line of teeth and products in North America from Candulour and also sold the right to use the name Swissedent to Austenal and Dentsply, which labelled Kenson teeth with the Swissedent brand. The quality of the teeth produced was inferior and deteriorated the Swissedent Brand.
In 1993, Dr. Smudde realised that this had taken place and knew that action had to be taken to bring the Swissedent brand back . Dr. Smudde went to Switzerland and acquired the distribution rights from Candulor for the same teeth imported and distributed by Dr. Frush under the name Swissedent. In 1994, Dr. Smudde formed Geneva Dental and created the trademark for the teeth under the Geneva 2000 for distribution in the US and Canada. In the same year he established the Geneva Dental Institute which provided education on the Geneva 2000 Prosthetic system. The same system, using the same tools Dr. Frush developed over 20 years ago.
Throughout the 1980s, in the United Kingdom the Swissedent system was used as the only system that had continuity between Dentists and Dental Technicians training in prosthetics and was used in many dental schools. It was the only system that had different training protocols for Dentists and Dental Technicians when added together created natural looking dentures. The Swissedent system was divided into groups for Dentists and Dental Technicians, with each group having their own protocols.
In 1994, Mr. John Gerrard a Dental Technician from London, still believed in Swissedent, that the Swissedent system could teach and train the future Dental Technicians and Dentists to create natural looking dentures, consistently and productively. He then registered and formed the company Swissedent LTD in the United Kingdom under the Swissedent License he had obtained from the PTC.
In 2010, Mr. Kashif Qureshi a qualified Dental Technician who had trained on the Swissedent system, as an apprentice under Mr. John Gerrard, approached Mr. Gerrard and discussed his business idea of becoming a Clinical Dental Technician (Denturists) and opening a Denture Clinic with the Swissedent name.
Between 2013 – 2015, Mr.Kashif Qureshi trained to become a Clinical Dental Technician, utilising all of the knowledge from the Swissedent system from the technical and clinical (Dentist & Dental Technician training system) aspect of Swissedent Dentures .
In 2015, Mr. Kashif Qureshi, a graduate from the University of Central Lancashire, opened the Swissedent Denture Clinic to treat patients for 'Natural Looking Dentures' from his combined knowledge of the technical and clinical aspects of the Swissedent system.
From 700 BCE to the breakthrough of natural looking dentures in 1951, the history of dentures will continue to live on. What will be next in the denture history?
Swissedent Denture Clinic
Private Dentures London, UK
About the author:
Kash Qureshi is a Clinical Dental Technician (Denturist) in the U.K and deals with over 400+ denture related cases from a clinical and technical aspect weekly at Bremadent Premier London Dental Laboratory & Swissedent Denture Clinic in London .