A Small Bite of History About Dentures

affordable dentures history of denturesAs dental professionals, our ultimate goal is for every one of our patients to live their whole lives without losing their teeth. However, in the unfortunate situation that a patient is missing their teeth, dentures are a great solution to return a smile to beauty and function. Dentures have a long and legendary history, and modern technology has made today’s dentures even more natural-looking and customized than ever before.

The earliest examples of dentures appeared in the 7th Century B.C. The ancient Etruscans used a combination of gold wire and human and animal teeth to create these early dentures. By the 5th Century B.C., ancient Romans were creating similar dentures. Wooden dentures appeared in Japan in the early 1500s. These dentures were similar to modern dentures in that they were carefully carved to match the shape of a person’s mouth. The Japanese later made dentures from stone, ivory and animal horn in addition to wood.

The number of people who need dentures has grown pretty quickly over the last few hundred years. As access to sugar and tobacco increased, mostly because of large sugar cane and tobacco plantations in the Americas, tooth decay became more common and widespread. The more people ate sugar and smoked, the more their teeth fell out. It makes sense that modern dentistry started to be developed around the same time.

Affordable dentures are a recent thing. For most of the history of dentures, they were an item reserved for the upper classes. The materials and expertise required to make them made dentures very expensive.

Contrary to popular belief, the first U.S. President, George Washington, did not have dentures made of wood. His dentures were made from carved hippopotamus ivory, gold wire, and human teeth. In fact, most dentures in the 1700s and 1800s were made with other people’s teeth, which had either been collected from bodies on battlefields or even stolen from graves! Thankfully, early dentists started developing porcelain dentures, which eventually eliminated the need to take teeth from the dead or those down on their luck.

Today, dentures are made from a specialized form of acrylic (a kind of durable, hard plastic) that can be made to look just like natural teeth and gums. While most dentures are held in place by friction/suction or adhesives, there are now dentures that can be held in place by mini dental implants. These implant-supported dentures are more secure and can even help prevent tooth-loss-related bone loss. The invention of dental implants in the last century also means that many people who might have gotten dentures in the past are replacing their teeth entirely with permanent prosthetic teeth, complete with a titanium tooth root.

We hope this history of dentures has made you grateful for the advances in modern dentistry. We certainly are!

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Clear Braces vs. Metal Braces

Clear Braces vs. Metal Braces

woman with white clear ceramic bracesThe choice between clear braces or metal braces is becoming an age-old debate at the orthodontist’s office or the dentist’s office. For many patients who wish to straighten their teeth, the choice comes down to balancing the affect of orthodontics on your appearance, it’s impact on your budget, & the expected or desired outcome for your particular case. Read more

5 Reasons to Visit the Dentist

empty dentist's chairThere have been unanswered calls, deleted voicemails,  ignored texts, & friendly reminders that never make it out of the envelope…we both know it’s been a while since you visited the dentist. If all our efforts to reconnect with you haven’t convinced you, maybe the following 5 reasons to see the dentist will get you to take care of your teeth properly again!

Oral Pain

If you are experiencing a toothache or pain in your gums or another part of your mouth, you should see us as soon as possible. We know this sounds obvious, but a surprising number of people put off going to the dentist when they’re in pain, either because they think it might get better on it’s own, or they’re afraid of what the treatment will cost. We can tell you from experience putting off getting treatment for a toothache will make it more expensive, not less! Plus, we don’t want any of our patients to be in pain for any length of time. The sooner you see us the sooner we can make the pain go away. If you’re experiencing oral pain, especially if accompanied by swelling or redness, please call right away.

Sensitive Teeth

While tooth sensitivity can be a result of relatively harmless things such as over-brushing or sensitivity to chemicals in tooth whitening toothpaste, it can also be a sign of a serious oral health problem. Tooth sensitivity to heat or cold can be a sign of a cracked tooth, a filling that’s gone bad, a cavity, tooth erosion, or even gum disease. If you’ve suddenly developed tooth sensitivity, please come in to see us. Not only will we be able to diagnose potential problems, we can offer treatments or advice that may reduce or eliminate the sensitivity.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums can be a sign of serious oral health problems, particularly gingivitis & gum disease (periodontal disease), which can lead to lots of pain, expense, & tooth extraction. Still, we know that many people see a bit of blood when they brush or floss their teeth & don’t think much of it. But consider this: you wash your hands all the time as a way to prevent disease. If your hands started bleeding every time you washed them, wouldn’t you contact your doctor? Same goes for your mouth: if it bleeds when you brush or floss, call us right away!

Health Changes

It’s easy to forget that your oral health affects your overall health & that the opposite is also true. If you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, you should let us know, as this condition puts you at higher risk for gum disease & poor oral hygiene has also been shown to exacerbate diabetes symptoms. Patients who are starting treatment for cancer should also contact us, as many cancer treatments can have serious side effects on your oral health. If you’ve recently been put on a medication that causes dry mouth, you may be more prone to tooth decay or other problems, so please let us know which medications you’re on & which side effects you’re experiencing. Women who who have become pregnant should also tell us right away, as pregnancy can create changes in your oral health, particularly your gums. These are just a few examples. If you’ve experienced a serious change in your health, please let us know so we can keep an eye on its effect on your smile.

It’s Been a While

Your teeth don’t hurt, your gums don’t bleed, you brush & floss regularly, you don’t have that much plaque or tartar build up, your teeth are not too yellow, you think your breath smells fine, so why should you visit the dentist? The truth is, many potential dental problems start with no noticeable symptoms at all. Visiting us regularly for a teeth cleaning & dental exam is the best way to detect unseen problems. For example, we do periodic x-rays of your teeth during your visit because it helps us spot cavities that may be starting between your teeth or under fillings that would otherwise not be visible to the naked eye & aren’t yet causing your pay. When you visit us we can detect signs of a problem that you may not know to look for, such as signs of tooth grinding or even oral cancer. Plus, why would you want to miss out on that wonderful smooth & fresh smile that you can only get after a cleaning at the dentist?