The History Of Dentistry pt. IV- Murphy’s Law- The Amalgam Filling

Toothaches are one of those things that we can be sure even our forefathers dealt with. We shudder when we hear how some people solve their toothaches with a monkey wrench. Our elders also had some pretty good solutions as well. In these articles, you can see the evolution of dentistry into its present form.

Dentistry started becoming a “real” medical science from the XIXth century onwards. A Frenchman, by the name of Fauchard laid down the fundamentals of the science.


The first amalgam filling came from the hand of a dentist working in London, by the name of Murphy, in 1825. The material and the filling technique proved to be effective, and while it is true that the filling is now under attack from modern medical science, it is still one of the most effective and longest lasting fillings discovered to date. Another good thing about it is that it was accesisble to all, because it is cheaper than gold or silver.

While laughing gas was discovered in 1776, it was not until 1844 that its use was incorporated into dentistry. Horace Wells form New York was the first dentist to notice (due to ana ccident, by the way) that laughing gas had anaesthetising effects, and he immediately put it to work on one of his colleagues, and extracted one of his teeth while he wa sunder the influence. The patient did not feel any pain. Later on, ether and chloroform were used to anaesthetise patients.   

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