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Lucy Stock is a columnist for the Irish News

More and More of Us Go for Gold

by Lucy Stock BDS DipImpDent RCS (Eng)

Published in the Irish News . 13.11.2013

The most recent fashion phenomenon of wearing gold teeth jewelry, known as Grills, has swept up many of the celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, Rita Orr and Katy Perry. These trinkets are often just temporary accompaniments to an outfit however gold when used to fix up broken teeth is a material that many dentists have high regard for. 

Gold is one of the earliest materials used to rebuild teeth and has been around for centuries. Today, several dental filling materials are available. Teeth can be filled with gold, porcelain, silver amalgam (which consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc, and copper), or tooth-colored, plastic, and glass materials called composite resin fillings. One major advantage in using gold to rebuild teeth is that it’s one of the longest lasting materials in the mouth. A gold crown can last upwards of 15 – 30 years if you take care of your teeth because gold does not corrode like other materials. Gold is strong enough to withstand the substantial forces involved in chewing yet it “gives” slightly which is kinder to the other teeth. This makes it an excellent option for the big back teeth which take the greatest forces.

A filling is placed when there is a small to medium hole in your tooth but if more tooth structure is missing then a crown, which goes all the way around a tooth, is used. If you opt for a gold crown the dentist needs to remove less tooth structure as gold is strong enough in very thin sections. This means that it’s the most conservative type of crown preparation leaving as much healthy tooth as possible. Gold is also easier to mould to the area where the tooth and crown meet giving a superb fit. 

With the gold price having falling back to more realistic levels this brings the cost of a gold crown down however it’s still a more expensive restoration than a silver or white one. A gold filling or crown is going to take 2 visits as opposed to doing a white or amalgam filling in one go. These considerations and your personal feelings about the appearance of gold need to be balanced against gold’s many benefits.