Partial denture set, c 1840-1860.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A set of dentures made in England between 1840 and 1860 for a wealthy client. The set features swaged gold plates into which are set anteriors (front teeth) made of gold and porcelain, and posteriors (back teeth) made of a block of ivory. The top and bottom of the set are connected with gold coil springs. 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.