The History of Dental Bridges
Dental crowns and dental bridges are a type of prosthetic device that is used to fix broken teeth, to prevent our teeth from fracturing, replace missing teeth, and help keep remaining teeth functioning properly. Dental implants are more common than you might think, and 15 million people in the United States have crown or dental bridges for missing teeth. While that might seem like a lot, they are actually 30 million people in America who are missing all of their teeth in either one or both of their jaws! Before your next trip to the dentist, learned some really cool facts about dental crowns and dental bridges and how we humans first started trying to fix our teeth.
The first example we have of any sort of dental crown is from a skeleton found in the Philippines. The skeleton is 4,000 years old and shows caps and tooth replacements made from gold. Apparently, modifying teeth was a very popular habit among the ruling class that and having gold teeth was a symbol of a person’s power and status. About 2,700 years ago, an ancient civilization called the Etruscans lived in what is today Tuscany. Archaeological evidence has shown that they had the first known true cosmetic dentistry. They also used gold dental bridges and crowns as a way of signaling wealth, but archaeologists have found skeletons whose artificial teeth were held in place by tying them to existing teeth with gold wire.
Cosmetic Dentists and Porcelain
In the 15th century, Europeans began to really experiment with dental issues. They made dentures out of bone and ivory and attempted all kinds of things to fix broken and missing teeth. By the 18th century, it was popular to use human teeth from a dead body to replace missing teeth in a living person. Unfortunately, most of the time this did not work, and the host body would reject the donor’s teeth. By the end of the 18th-century, dentures were being made out of porcelain, and this became standard for replacing missing teeth.
Nineteenth Century Advances
Dissatisfied with the state of dentistry, Dr. Charles Land invented the first porcelain jacket crown to fit over broken or damaged teeth. This was the first modern dental crown and very much like the crowns we still use today. A broken tooth was rebuilt with a porcelain covering to make it look new, and eventually, missing teeth were replaced with bridges made of porcelain. For its day, this was revolutionary and worked extremely well. In fact, we continued using this very method all the way up until the 1950s. At that point, we started using metal for the actual crown and bridge and covered it over with porcelain. This worked even better because metal crowns and dental bridges were much stronger than porcelain alone and less likely to cause issues than those made with any other materials. The porcelain covering made the crowns and bridges look as much like real teeth as possible.
Today, we still have a lot of problems with our teeth. A third of people say that they are concerned about the way their teeth look. Almost one in five people say they have hidden their teeth when taking a photograph. Periodontal disease is also rampant, and 74% of Americans have it. By the age of 17, almost 80% of Americans will have had a cavity. Thankfully, we have even more modern and effective methods of fixing tooth issues. Today, our dental bridges and crowns can be made from porcelain, gold alloys, base metal alloys, or ceramics. The modern dental bridge is strong, effective, and looks natural. It can even be stained in a way that makes it indistinguishable from existing teeth around it.
Always remember that having a broken or missing tooth is a very serious issue. It can affect the shape of the mouth over time as a person bites in an unnatural way to compensate for the missing tooth. Always get a broken or chipped tooth fixed immediately, and if you’re missing any teeth, look for dentists near you who can build you defective and natural-looking dental bridges.