Dear Rafael Bowen, D. D. S.:

{ Monday, March 10, 2008 }

I had a tooth filled last week and am writing to thank you. So you're the one! The developer of resin composite!

I always wonder when I'm in the dentist's chair who's responsible for the tools, the techniques, and the exotic substances -- the gummy ones, the acid ones, the ones they claim taste like grape or bubble gum. (You know they don't, right?) As a veteran of metal braces and that awful brown paste used to affix the brackets, not to mention headgear, I'm fascinated by the ways in which dentistry keeps getting kinder to my mouth.

Anaesthetic patches, for instance. And precise rinse-and-suction equipment so I don't have to swish and spit, inadvertently swallowing grit and goo, the way I did when I was a kid. And whatever it is that's changed about the hygienist's equipment and training that allows him or her the lightest touch, the gentlest scrape.

And then there's the resin composite filling. How did you even think to try it? What problem were you trying to solve? How many materials and bonding processes did you have to go through? (And is there any way to thank the good souls whose teeth were tested upon?)

No more metal fillings! I know amalgam is cheaper and is supposed to last longer, but every time I had a silver filling, the dentist had to drill away more than just the cavity to attach it. I'd rather keep more healthy tooth, so thank you! Thank you for your years of study and your long hours in the lab and for whatever persuasion you had to bring to bear on the dental profession! Thank you!

I don't like knowing I have cavities. But I do like knowing when I leave the dentist's chair that my teeth have been given a better fighting chance for longevity.

I hope that all those you love always floss well, and having one fewer infection for their bodies to worry about, live longer and healthier lives thereby.


Ann Elizabeth

Dentistry Links

The history of dentistry from the ADA
The roll call of the Dentistry Hall of Fame
Development of Adhesive Bonding System by Dr. Bowen and Dr. Marjenhoff (have to love a treatise that starts with a quote from Bloody Mary)
You should only floss the teeth you want to keep.

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