Partial upper denture, mid 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Made of elephant ivory, these teeth are individually attached with pins to an ivory plate which has been stained pink. The first false teeth were made by the Etruscans as long ago as 700 BC, but the difficulties of decay and poor fitting did not begin to be overcome until the late 18th century. Ivory was commonly used for making false teeth, although from the late 18th century porcelain was increasingly favoured as it did not decay.