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The first evidence of gold being used in dentistry is credited to the 7th century Etruscans. The early repair work involved replacing a lost tooth with a cow or calf tooth held in place with gold wire. In 1530, the first dental textbook was printed in Leipzig and it recommended using gold leaf in fillings.
As with other healthcare uses, gold in dental work does not cause any reaction or harm when it comes in contact with the human body. Modern use of gold in dental work is mainly as an alloy, mixed with a noble metal such as platinum, palladium or a silver, copper, zinc mixture. These metal alloys provide a long lasting, strong material that is ideal for inlays, crowns and bridges.
When the price of gold increased during the 1970s and 80s, the metal became less popular for dental repairs, despite its resistance to corrosion. While gold was still used, the amount decreased causing some concerns to be raised about the possible side effects of the other materials being used. However, since then the prices of many of the alternative metals has also risen and gold has become more widely used yet again.
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