Gold or gold metal alloy crowns may appear to be gleaming gold or they may look more silvery, depending on the amount of alloy used. They are sturdy and durable and don’t need much tooth material removed to be affixed. With good care, they can last for up to 50 years or more. They are, however, the least invisible of the materials that can be used for crowns. Porcelain or porcelain fused metal crowns are less noticeable but they don’t last nearly as long. However, your insurance company may provide replacement coverage if your crown fails after five years.
Gold is one of the oldest types of dental material there is, dating back four millennia to the Philippines. Now it is often used in an alloy with chromium or nickel for strength, and since gold is now so pricey, making it into an alloy also makes it more affordable.
A gold crown is not necessarily always a bright shiny gold color because of those alloys. But, because of their color, they are extremely noticeable. For that reason, they are often used on molars because they can be installed at the back and not be obvious.
One of the main reasons to choose a gold crown tooth is that they are extremely durable. They will not break and are very hard to chip. This is another reason gold restorations are often used on molars. They are also very malleable so your dentist won’t have to do much surface abrasion to create a surface that the crown will adhere to.
Gold is also very resistant to corrosion. There are gold coins that have been at the bottom of the ocean for over 300 years and look as good as the day they were minted.
And, they cause the least impact wear on the opposing teeth when compared to other materials used in crowns and bridges.
Why do you need a crown?
A crown is used to cap your tooth if it is weak or damaged, or if it does not look good. The crown is shaped like a tooth so it blends into the neighboring teeth. The crown is affixed to your tooth with dental cement by a dental professional, and if it needs to be removed, only a dentist can remove it.
One reason you might need a gold crown tooth is that you grind your teeth in your sleep and your dentist believes a crown will help build up your bite surfaces. Because of their strength, gold crowns will not break down if you continue to grind your teeth.
Dental crowns are used if other dental work options cannot be utilized. These include fillings, also called inlays; Onlays which are used to fill and also replace part of the tooth structure; and partial crowns that fill in the back half or front half of a tooth. They are all designed to restore your good oral health.
What other types of crowns are there?
There are a few other types of crown material that are commonly used in dentistry. Here are a few of them.
- This is a very common type of crown material, and they look just like your own natural teeth so they are virtually invisible. However, they are not the sturdiest material. They are often used on the front teeth because they look so natural and they won’t have much grinding to hold up to. They can wear the opposing teeth faster because of their roughness.
- Porcelain and metal. This is also a quite common type of dental material that helps give porcelain crowns more strength. They are fused to metal PFM which makes them hold up better and still gives you the natural look you want, but the precious metal can show up as a dark line along your gum line if the tooth is visible. And, the porcelain is more subject to breaking or chipping.
- This is a choice for people who want the natural look of porcelain but perhaps have metal allergies and therefore are not good candidates for metal crowns. The ceramic material called zirconium dioxide can be color-matched to your teeth for a seamless look. They are not quite as strong as porcelain fused to metal crowns. They also can press on the opposing teeth.
- Pressed ceramic. This is a ceramic/porcelain hybrid, with porcelain on the top. This combination is stronger than a crown made of just ceramic would be, and it will last longer than a crown of just porcelain or just ceramic would.
- A resin crown is a mix of plastic and glass that are colored to match your teeth. They are quite affordable but they are the least durable, to the point that they are often used as a temporary crown while a root canal or other dental restoration heals.
What are the drawbacks to gold crowns?
Reactions to precious metal crowns like gold are not common, but there are some other possible problems with them. Let’s look at them.
- You may have some redness or swelling at the crown site
- You may have some mouth pain from the crown rubbing
- You may see some lesions called an oral lichenoid reaction
- You may have a reaction to an alloy with nickel
- Gold crowns are very expensive. They can run you as much as $2,500 each, compared to a cost of about $1,000 for a regular crown.
Because of their cost, and because your dental insurance may only cover half the cost of the gold crown tooth, you may have quite an out-of-pocket cost to cover. Check with your insurance company to see what they cover and whether your insurance will consider the procedure cosmetic or necessary.
You might wonder if gold crowns ever fail, and the answer is yes they can. They can wear down and leave the tooth structure exposed, or you might have cavities from under them and they need to be replaced. If you experience a crown failure or one of the above problems, be sure to contact your dentist right away so the issue can be addressed right away.
As you can see, a gold crown tooth has some distinct durability advantages over other types of material like ceramic or porcelain, but it is more costly. A pure gold crown will be better for anyone who has a metal allergy and they will be the sturdiest for rear teeth thanks to the solid nature of the gold. Alternatively, you can get a crown with a gold base that combines cost and strength. If you do grind your teeth a lot at night, you should consider a mouth guard as well to help protect the rest of your teeth.
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