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Kelowna Dentists Discuss History of Dental Fillings


Dental fillings have been around for a lot longer than most people realize. Reports suggest the first documented use of dental amalgams—an alloy comprised of mercury and other metals—by the Tang Dynasty in 659 AD. Of course, the materials and techniques used today by Kelowna dentists have changed considerably, but it’s remarkable to think the practice has been around for so long.

To put the advent of dental fillings into context, here are a few historical highlights of the 7th century:

  • Islam begins in Arabia, the Qur’an is documented
  • World population is just over 200 million (about the size of Brazil today)
  • Wet-field rice cultivation flourishes in China and India
  • Byzantine Empire rules much of Greece, Eastern Europe and north coast of Africa

Dental fillings didn’t arrive in North America for quite some time, which in hindsight is probably a good thing considering the health risks associated with mercury. After becoming popular in England and other parts of Western Europe in the early 1800s, amalgams were first introduced here in the 1830s.

As mentioned, early amalgams were made using mercury and a blend of other metals such as:

  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Copper
  • Tin

A Look at Modern Dental Fillings

Today, the fillings like the ones used by Kelowna dentists are much safer for patients as there are a number of different materials available—such as gold, porcelain, silver amalgam and composite resins—depending on your particular needs.

With more and more Kelowna residents wanting whiter, brighter smiles, practitioners such as Okanagan Smiles Dentistry carry more than 30 shades of white to ensure your fillings aren’t noticeable. More importantly, their composite fillings don’t contain mercury, which has been linked to health concerns such as:

  • Neurological issues
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Mental disorders

For added peace of mind, Okanagan Smiles’ dental fillings are also BPA-free (Bisphenol A). While Health Canada has banned BPA in infant products—such as baby bottles and infant formula cans—it’s OK to use them in dental materials because they’re well within the government organization’s recommended safety margins.

When dentists first began using composite resins in place of amalgams, there was concern over their durability. However, ever-improving technology has seen tremendous advancements in the materials and adhesives used to install ‘white fillings.’ In fact, when properly placed, these new fillings can outlast silver fillings in many situations. And best of all, you don’t get a jolt if you accidentally bite down on a piece of tinfoil that got left in a chocolate bar wrapper.

Whether you’re visiting us for cosmetic or general dentistry, we provide a comfortable experience with results that will last. Contact us to book an appointment today!

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