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Smile Makeovers

Smile Makeovers: A History of Dental Porcelain

Dental technicians with porcelain teeth

Porcelain is an extremely hard and lightly translucent ceramic. These qualities make it great for fashioning effective and natural-looking artificial teeth. Modern forms of porcelain are used in our smile makeovers. We thought it might be interesting to take a brief survey of how porcelain first came to be used in dentistry and how techniques and materials have evolved. 

Invention of Porcelain

Porcelain was invented in China during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). The degree of whiteness and translucency continued to be refined over the following centuries. During the same period, the Chinese made many advances in dentistry – including a remarkable study of cavity growth and the development of silver amalgam fillings! – however, it was not until porcelain technology reached Europe that it was put to use in the manufacture of artificial teeth.

European Innovation

The secrets of Chinese porcelain spread across East Asia and Mesopotamia and arrived in Enlightenment Europe in the early 18th Century. In 1770, the Parisian apothecary Alexis Duchâteau and his dentist, Nicholas de Chémant, used the new technology to fabricate the first crude porcelain dentures. These pioneers of dentistry established the principle of artificial porcelain teeth, but the early prototypes were prone to chipping and micro-cracks.

Another Parisian, Giuseppangelo Fonzi, began manufacturing individual porcelain teeth by kilning the ceramic around a platinum pin. This development made it possible to attach individual teeth to a metal frame affixed between existing natural teeth – a precursor to modern bridgework.

Modern Developments

We have come a long way since these early experiments with porcelain teeth. Refinements in our understanding of ceramics technology have made porcelain teeth harder and less susceptible to cracking and chipping. Advancements in Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacture have brought about the natural-looking artificial teeth that have been the Holy Grail of restorative dentistry for two-and-half centuries.

If you would like to know more about the state-of-the-art technology we employ in our Smile Makeovers, or to book a free consultation, please call the reception at our flagship Hampstead clinic on 020 7433 3252 or email info@glowdentistry.co.uk.

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