Gold tooth fillings are a type of dental restorative procedure where the damaged or broken tooth structure is replaced or capped by a prosthesis made from gold. Typically, gold fillings are popular among the rich in modern times as it marks a symbol of high status and wealth. Gold was first used in the 19th century to fill tooth cavities. One of the essential characteristics of gold as restorative material dentistry is –
- It is malleable
- Immune to corrosion unlike other metals
- Mimics the hardness of the tooth enamel (1)
- Doesn’t cause harm to the tooth surface
Today almost 5% of the world’s gold is used for dental restorations. With the evolvement of dental procedures, gold also came into use for providing full crown coverage in the form of a dental crown. Moreover, gold is now combined with several metals such as palladium, nickel, and chromium to increase the benefits of its use in restoring a tooth. (2)
Some of the therapeutic procedures that used gold as a tooth filling material include –
- Tooth cavities
- Inlay and onlays
- Coverage of tooth crown
Gold is also considered as one of the most durable dental material that can last for almost 20 years. Gold foil is the most common form used for small tooth fillings. However, the placement of gold fillings may require more than one dental appointment. (3)
Usually, the dentist prepares the tooth cavity and takes an impression to form a dental mold. The mold is sent to a lab for the fabrication of gold restoration. When the restoration is ready, the dentist fixes it to the tooth cavity using bonding cement.
One disadvantage of gold fillings is that it requires extensive tooth preparation, unlike the conservative approach used in amalgam and composite tooth cavity. Therefore, a large amount of tooth is removed. However, it is the opposite of tooth capping with gold. A gold crown requires minimal tooth preparation, just like any other metal dental crown.
Benefits of gold tooth filling
Some of the key benefits of gold fillings include –
- Gold fillings can withstand massive biting forces
- They are durable and can last for almost 10-20 years
- They do not corrode or provide discomfort to the patient (4)
- They are ideal for tooth filling of back teeth that do not have aesthetic concerns
- Require minimal tooth preparation for full crown coverage
Disadvantages of gold fillings
Some of the problems of gold fillings include –
- More than one dental appointment for completion of the treatment
- Increased risk of galvanic shock when there are amalgam fillings in the mouth – a sudden static force formed when two metals such as amalgam and gold come in close contact with one another.
- Cannot replace the damaged tooth structure of front teeth (5)
- Are slightly expensive as compared to other tooth fillings such as amalgam.
Cost of gold tooth fillings
The cost of gold tooth filling typically depends on the tooth number, the type of dental insurance, and the location of the dental office. On average, a gold tooth filling may range between $800 – $1500 per tooth. Most dental insurance may provide full or partial coverage for the cost of the treatment.
It usually depends on the reason behind getting a gold tooth filling. Typically, dental insurance provides cost coverage when the decayed tooth, damaged or broken tooth, and a root canal treated tooth is being restored with a gold tooth filling. Without insurance, the cost of gold filling can shoot upto $2500 per tooth.