Dental Research

400-year-old dentures?

November 23, 2016

A recent discovery has shed some light on an early pair of dentures employing gold bands to hold the teeth in place.

A Live Science article suggests that this 400-year-old dental prosthesis, found at an Italian burial site, may predate modern tooth bridges. The relative age of the dentures was deduced from the surrounding pottery fragments found in the same burial site, dating back to the early 17th century.

The antique dentures consist of three central incisors and two canines held together by an internal golden lamina band. Researchers scanned the lamina band and found it to be an alloy composed of 73 percent gold, 15.6 percent silver, and 11.4 percent copper (shown in image at right).

Although the identity of the owner remains a mystery, close inspection revealed that the apparatus was fully functional. In fact, deposits found on the dentures indicate that they were worn for an extensive period of time.