History of Dental Bridges

October 4, 2018 — by Dr.Thomas Tang
Tags: Dental Bridges

Digital image of implant-supported dental bridgeDentistry, in some form, has been around since 7000 B.C. People have always been interested in repairing and replacing damaged teeth, using anything from wooden pegs to seashells.

Today, Dr. Thomas Tang and the team at our Brookfield, WI dental practice explore the history of dental bridges and explain how teeth replacement has evolved over the centuries.

At Brookfield Family Dentistry, we offer a wide range of services, including restorative, cosmetic, and general dentistry treatments to improve your oral health. No matter what your oral health needs, we can help you achieve the smile you desire.

What Are Dental Bridges?

Dental bridges are restorations designed to replace a row of missing teeth. Consisting of two dental crowns on either side with prosthetic teeth in between them, a dental bridge is bonded to the adjacent teeth to complete your smile.

Today, bridges can be attached to natural teeth or dental implants. Crafted from natural-looking, high-quality materials, bridges offer incredibly natural-looking results. Bridges remain one of the most common teeth replacement options on the market.

Dental Bridges in the Ancient World

Egyptian mummies, dating back to 1900 B.C. and discovered by archaeologists, had dental bridges still intact. Holes were drilled into artificial teeth. These teeth were then secured to the adjacent teeth with gold or silver wire. As a result, the large gaps left behind by tooth loss were filled in with the artificial teeth.

Several ancient civilizations used materials found in the natural world to craft restorations and teeth replacements.

The Etruscans used ivory and bone to craft dentures around 700 B.C. Shortly thereafter, they began using teeth from humans and animals. These teeth were either taken from the deceased or extracted from live donors.

Unsurprisingly, these restorations were unhygienic and deteriorated quickly. Still, this method was practiced until the late 19th century.

The Modernization of the Dental Bridge

In the 1800s, dentists began using porcelain to create dental restorations. Methods continued to advance throughout the century, and by 1903, the “porcelain jacket crown” was invented by Charles Land.

This was intended as a substitute for gold and amalgam fillings. These restorations looked more natural but were still weak and not very efficient.

Later on, by the mid-1900s, porcelain could be fused to metal, making restorations like crowns and bridges much more resilient.

From Function to Fashion

During the early and mid-1900s, the primary objective of dental bridges was to restore chewing function. During this time, restorations were often made from gold or metal alloys.

While certainly functional, these bridges were quite noticeable to others, since the metallic color did not blend in with the natural teeth.

However, in the late 1900s, dentists began to focus on achieving a natural-looking smile as well. At this point, ceramic and zirconia became popular materials due to their natural look and unparalleled strength.

Contact Brookfield Family Dentistry

Today, options for dental bridges are vast and varied. Unlike our ancient ancestors, we can now replace missing teeth discreetly. At Brookfield Family Dentistry, our bridges are so natural looking that others will not be able to tell you are wearing a restoration. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us online or give us a call at (262) 821-1000.