The History of Dental Crowns

Dentistry has had a storied past, from the Sumerians in 5000 B.C. writing about dental problems to today’s cosmetic dentistry. It is a fascinating (and a bit scary) history. We all remember tales of the local barber or blacksmith who added the dentist’s job to their duties. And of course, who can forget George Washington’s wooden teeth? Dentistry has improved over the years, and we are much happier for it.

What is a dental crown?

Dentists use a dental crown primarily for dental restoration, but they are used in cosmetic dentistry as well. Just as you imagine royalty wearing a crown, dental crowns are tooth-shaped “caps” that cover over the entire tooth. Crowns are used for a variety of reasons, but primarily for repairing and strengthening damaged teeth.

Here are other reasons you might need a dental crown:

  • Hold a cracked tooth together
  • Cover a large filling or a dental implant
  • Hold a dental bridge in place
  • Cover crooked or discolored teeth
  • Improve the overall appearance of your mouth

Crowns are made of ceramic, gold alloys, and base metal alloys. All-porcelain crowns are the most widely used because they match your natural teeth. Dental crowns are durable and usually made in a dental laboratory.

When were dental crowns first used?

Although articles disagree about the exact dates, evidence suggests that skeletons had gold-capped teeth as far back as four thousand years in Luzon, an island in the Philippines. The Etruscans, living in a part of Italy now known as Tuscany, also used gold to create crowns and replacement teeth. Obviously, for both civilizations, gold indicated a person’s wealth and status in society. 

Over the years, people experimented with everything from ivory to bone to even animal and human teeth. It was not until the late 1800s that porcelain was first used for crowns. By the middle of the 20th century, Corning Glass Works was even getting into the crown-making business. Today, dentists can create crowns using CAD/CAM dentistry, to make computer-generated 3D tooth restorations.

More questions?

As you can see, dentistry has come a long way. If you have questions about getting dental crowns, replacing crowns, or need a dental checkup, simply contact Dr. Foote’s office. Whether it is cosmetic or health-related, we can help!