The History of Dental Fillings

The Evolution of Dental Fillings

The history of dental fillings spans hundreds of years, albeit in different types to the modern white fillings and amalgam we are used to today. In this article, you will learn about the history of dental fillings and why modern dental fillings are a miracle to behold.

dental work being done

Early Fillings

Humans have used dental fillings for a long time. Evidence of the earliest dental fillings date back to thousands of years. The earliest fillings were made of a material known as bitumen.

Evidence suggests that when a person was in pain, most likely from an infected tooth pulp or necrotic tissue infection, they intentionally enlarged their cavities, removed the decaying tissues, and filled the left cavity with bitumen to relieve the pain.

Another case of dental fillings was exhibited by the remains of a man found in a cave in Italy. In this particular case, beeswax was used as the dental filling material. It is hypothesized that the man had been using his teeth for tasks other than chewing when he got injured.

Evidence suggests that over the years, a wide variety of materials have been used as dental fillings. This ranges from aluminum, cork, tin, and even asbestos. None of these materials proved effective in preventing pain and/or decay.

While a 700 B.C medical text in China mentions the use of ‘silver paste’ as dental fillings, metal fillings only gained popularity in the 19th century.

In the 19th century, medical professionals began to use metals such as gold, silver, and tin as dental fillings. Later on, amalgam fillings were introduced and become quite popular. It is important to note that the first amalgam fillings are different from modern-day amalgam dental fillings.

The first iterations of amalgams were made of silver, tin, copper, and mercury. However, concerns over the use of mercury rose soon afterward. Mercury was ineffective in filling dental cavities, but there were also some serious health concerns as mercury as it was found to cause cancer, and mercury poisoning to mention a few.

dental crowns and bridges

Modern Fillings

With advancements in technology and material science, current amalgam fillings are way safer. While they still use mercury, it’s chemically bound to other metals, which decreases the amount of mercury released into and absorbed by your body.

So advanced are modern amalgam fillings that the amount of mercury exposure from these fillings is less than the average daily absorption through water, air, and food.

As such, Amalgam dental fillings are considered safe. Additionally, they are durable and flexible, making them ideal for use in filling molar cavities.

However, modern dental fillings are made from other materials as well. These include fold, porcelain, and composites. All these materials have been tested and proven both safe and durable. They can be applied in sterile conditions with minimal pain and discomfort to the patient.

If you have a toothache, contact Collins Bay Dental today to determine whether you need a dental filling or some other dental treatment. We’re happy to help!

 

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