One of the most common dental procedures that patients have done is checking for cavities and having any that are discovered treated with fillings. As most of us know, fillings, which are also called amalgams, are the most common method for treating cavities, but where did this popular treatment method come from?
Some say that fillings may have been around for more than 6,500 years, with some of the earliest fillings believed to have been made from beeswax and installed after the patient was already deceased, according to 123Dentist.com. Since the concept of fillings is thousands of years old, it’s no surprise that they have gone through many different incarnations to become what we know today.
Moving forward into the 19th century, metal fillings became more popular. These were a variety of metals, most commonly gold, tin and silver, that were softened and fitted into the cavity in the tooth. As the century marched on, amalgams became more commonly used. This mix of metals blended tin, silver, mercury and copper to create a filling material that was more efficient and affordable to create.
Before long, the predominant use of mercury was discontinued as people began to realize that the metal could seep into a patient’s body and cause damage. Upon the realization that fillings were causing mercury poisoning, the method was denounced, but many fringe dentists continued the practice of using mercury due to how inexpensive and easy these fillings were to use.
The use of mercury in fillings has been dramatically diminished, and these days, amalgams are mostly made of gold, porcelain, silver and composite resin, with trace amounts of mercury used to bind the amalgam materials together. Dentists and chemists alike have concluded that using these other metals in the fillings is much safer while still providing excellent results for teeth in the process.
At Brockport Dental, we provide both traditional amalgam fillings as well as new composite fillings that more closely match the look of teeth – perfect for fillings in front teeth or more visible teeth. To learn more about fillings or to schedule your next dentist’s appointment, call us today at 585-589-0000 or request a visit online now.