Cavities are the number one cause of tooth decay. Inadequate oral hygiene and unhealthy eating habits are the fast track to those annoying, painful little craters in the mouth. Since they are literally comprised of rotted tooth, what is left behind after the dentist cleans out the debris is a hole. The only way to correct this issue is to insert a filling, which restores both the functionality and appearance of the tooth. When it comes to choosing fillings, patients these days have a variety of options to choose from. Composite resin, ceramic, glass ionomer and gold all have their advantages and disadvantages, but our ancestors were not so fortunate.
In the early days of the dental profession, before it even was one for that matter, patients were forced to have anything from stone or cork to lead used to replace the effects of cavities. Dentists did not have the luxury of using powered drills either. Imagine what it must have been like to have someone hammer in a piece of metal in your mouth with a sharp object, all without having any sedatives or painkillers! It may make you appreciate the advancements the field of dentistry has had.
The Creation of Modern Day Fillings
If we fast forward a few hundred years to the 19th century, we find that this is the period in time when modern fillings were becoming known. Depending on the needs of the patient and the availability of material, dentists would use lead, silver, platinum or gold as their metal of choice. However, just as is the case today, patients who could not afford the higher cost of these precious metals resorted to tin instead. Tin fillings were actually widespread during the Civil War, as they served as inexpensive method for treating the mass of soldiers on the battlefield.
Thankfully, scientists soon discovered that lead was poisonous, and so its application was ceased altogether in the late 1800s. Silver amalgam, still one of the most widely used materials for fillings, was introduced mid-19th century, although back then scientists had to experiment with multiple compositions, as amalgam also consists of mercury and alloy metals. As the years progressed, composite materials became more popular. Today, they are cheap, reliable alternative to their more expensive counterparts.
Although dentists have long understood the importance of using fillings to cure cavities, they have had to test out a range of materials along the way. Thus, the types used today have only been made available as a result of an extensive process of trial and error. If you are in need of a filling, be sure to visit us at East Cobb Family Dentistry!