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Lower denture with human teeth, England, 1800-1870

Human teeth were in great demand for dentures during the Victorian period. Teeth pulled from willing volunteers could not meet the demand. A grislier source were bodies from European battlefields. Such teeth were known as ‘Waterloo teeth’ for much of the 1800s. This reflected the plentiful supply the famous battle provided. This denture also has human teeth fixed into it. It was made for the lower jaw and is carved from hippopotamus ivory. Dentures continue to replace teeth usually lost by illness, infection, poor diet or, in extreme cases, warfare. Ivory was expensive and could only be afforded by the wealthy.

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    Glossary: human remains

    term created as part of the NMSI human remains policy (from April 2007); Other terms used are 'blood' and 'human hair'

    Glossary: tooth

    No description.

    Glossary: dentistry

    The study, treatment and management of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, gums, teeth and their supporting tissues.

    Glossary: denture

    A replacement tooth, or set of teeth that are usually removable.