What Are Gold Fillings?
Gold fillings, also known as gold inlays or onlays, are a type of dental restoration used to repair and restore teeth that have been damaged by decay or trauma. They’re made from a mixture of gold and other metals, such as silver, copper, and platinum, to create a durable and long-lasting dental filling material. Gold fillings are known for their unique properties and have been used in dentistry for many years.
Benefits of Gold Fillings
Several benefits can be enjoyed due to gold fillings, including:
- Durability: Gold is an extremely durable and long-lasting material. Gold fillings can withstand chewing and biting for many years, often outlasting other types of dental fillings.
- Biocompatibility: Gold is biocompatible, meaning it’s well-tolerated by the human body. It’s less likely to cause allergic reactions or sensitivities compared to some other filling materials.
- Longevity: Gold fillings have a proven track record of lasting for decades. With proper care and maintenance, they can remain functional for 15 to 30 years or even longer. This longevity can result in cost savings over time as there are fewer replacements needed.
- Less Tooth Sensitivity: Gold fillings are less likely to cause tooth sensitivity than materials like silver amalgam. This can be especially beneficial for individuals who have sensitive teeth or are concerned about post-treatment discomfort.
- Precise Fit: Gold fillings are custom-made to fit the specific contours of the prepared tooth. This custom fabrication ensures a tight seal that minimizes the risk of further decay or damage to the tooth.
- Minimal Shrinkage: Gold fillings have minimal shrinkage, Unlike other filling materials that may contract or shrink slightly after placement. This helps maintain the integrity of the restoration and reduces the risk of gaps or microleakage around the filling.
- Strength: Gold is a strong and resilient material, making it an excellent choice for restorations in posterior teeth (molars and premolars) that endure significant biting forces.
- Resistance to Corrosion: Gold doesn’t corrode or tarnish, ensuring that the filling maintains its integrity and won’t deteriorate over time.
Disadvantages of Gold Fillings
Just like other treatments, gold fillings have some disadvantages as well, including:
- Aesthetic Concerns: Gold fillings have a distinctive gold color, which can be highly visible in the mouth. This aesthetic factor makes them less suitable for front teeth or individuals who prioritize the natural appearance of their smile.
- Cost: Gold fillings are typically more expensive than other filling materials. The cost of gold, as a precious metal, contributes to the overall expense.
- Multiple Appointments: Getting a gold filling may require multiple dental visits.
- Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some individuals may be allergic to gold or the metals used in gold alloys. Allergic reactions can lead to discomfort, inflammation, or other adverse effects.
- Tooth Removal: Gold fillings may require more tooth removal compared to some other filling materials. This can weaken the tooth structure, potentially leading to the need for more extensive dental work in the future.
- Visible Margins: In some cases, the margin of a gold filling may become visible over time as the gum line recedes or the filling wears down. This can affect the appearance of the restoration.
Gold Fillings Process
Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
Your dentist will assess the extent of tooth damage and determine if a gold filling is the best option. If so, your custom treatment plan will be created.
The dentist will numb the area around the tooth using a local anesthetic to ensure you’re comfortable during the procedure. The damaged or decayed portion of the tooth is removed using dental instruments, leaving behind a clean and prepared cavity. They’ll shape the cavity to allow for the proper placement of the gold filling.
An impression of the prepared tooth is taken to create a custom-fitted gold filling.
The impression is sent to a dental laboratory, where skilled technicians will create the gold filling. The filling is fabricated to match the specific contours and dimensions of the prepared tooth.
Fitting and Cementing
Once the gold filling is ready, you’ll return to the dentist’s office for placement. The dentist will ensure that the gold filling fits perfectly into the prepared cavity. They’ll apply dental cement to the interior of the cavity and the filling. Then, the filling is carefully placed into the cavity and cemented securely in place.
Polishing and Final Adjustments
After the gold filling is cemented, any excess cement is removed. Your dentist will check your bite to ensure that it feels natural and comfortable. The filling is polished to ensure a smooth surface and a comfortable bite. Then, any final adjustments are made as needed to ensure proper alignment and function.
Gold Filling Costs
Gold fillings range between $250 to $2,000 without insurance. The price will fluctuate depending on the market value of gold. Other factors, including the size of the filling and the location of the damaged tooth, will also influence the total cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are gold fillings safe?
Yes, gold fillings are considered safe and have been used for many decades without significant issues.
Can I get a gold filling for a front tooth?
While possible, the aesthetic concerns of a gold filling on a front tooth may lead to other options being preferred.
Is it possible to remove a gold filling?
Yes, it’s possible to remove a gold filling, but it may require replacement with another restoration option.
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