What are False Teeth?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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False teeth are devices that are utilized to perform the function of natural teeth when they are no longer present. Also known as dentures, false teeth sometimes become necessary due to the deterioration of natural teeth or due to some type of accident that severely damages the teeth. False teeth may be permanently inserted into the gums or be constructed into plates that can be placed over the gums and removed when appropriate.

The use of false or fake teeth has a long history. There are indications that false teeth have been around since at least 700 BC. During the Middle Ages, false teeth made from ivory or animal bone made it possible for people to enjoy the benefits of teeth even after circumstances had made it necessary to remove natural teeth. Using false teeth also tended to cut down on the harvesting of natural teeth from the recently deceased, as well as limiting the opportunity for people to have healthy teeth extracted in return for some type of financial gain.


During the 20th century, false teeth became more sophisticated. The idea of making dental impressions so that the configuration of the upper and lower plates of false teeth would be an exact fit came into common use. The dentures also began to take on a look that was closer to that of natural teeth. By the middle of the century, high quality false teeth were difficult to distinguish from a mouthful of healthy natural teeth.

While many people think in terms of false teeth being a completely manufactured set of teeth, that is not always the case. Sections of false teeth, known as partials, are sometimes utilized to fill in a gap where several teeth are missing. The partials slide into place and sometimes are fashioned to connect with the existing teeth. False teeth also come in the form of dental implants. The implants are permanent false teeth that are inserted to take the place of one or two teeth that have been removed for some reason. The dental plants fit neatly into the tooth socket of the gum and blend in with the natural teeth.

While it is possible to obtain false teeth that are intentionally distinct from natural teeth, the vast majority of people who require dental replacements prefer to have the appearance be as close to real teeth as possible. Thus, cosmetic teeth are made of materials such a porcelain or synthetic resins and plastics that will retain a white appearance for many years and hold up to the usual wear and tear placed on any set of teeth.


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