There is Still a Place for Gold in the Dental Practice

Boynton Beach dentist Dr. Jamie Alexander skillfully makes use of gold alloy restorations for durable, long-lasting fillings and partial crowns. Yes, there is still a place for gold in the dental practice!

The Dental Practice and Gold

Even though cosmetic dentistry has taken us in the direction of using ceramic materials that emulate the color, reflectivity, and translucency of natural tooth enamel, there is still a place for gold in dentistry today. It is typically used for posterior (back) teeth that do not show when you smile.

Gold as a pure metal is very soft.  In dentistry, gold is mixed as an alloy with other noble metals and even some base metals to create a harder metal compound. Because pure gold is very soft it wears easily under chewing forces.  The alloyed metals range in their percentage of gold from High noble metal (at least 40% gold) to base metal (Less than 25% gold). Dr. Alexander exclusively uses high noble gold alloys, which has the greatest percentage of gold in the alloy mixture.

For conservative partial restoration of molars, gold alloy can be cast into a filling for the center crevices of a molar. The casting, known as an inlay, is cemented to the prepared tooth. Gold alloy can also be cast to create a partial crown, known as an onlay or overlay. This is like an inlay but covers one or more cusps or the entire biting surface of the tooth. These restorations are cast in a dental laboratory in a process similar to gold jewelry and may last for many years.

“There are gold restorations that have been in my patient’s mouth for 50-60 years, and still look like the day they were put in”, says Dr. Jamie Alexander. “This type of treatment certainly has passed the test of time. If esthetics is not a concern, and my patient wants maximum longevity; we opt for gold as our ideal material choice”.

Today there is a wide array of gold-based dental alloys suitable for dental restorations. A high-noble gold alloy still remains an optimal material. It is no co-incidence that in all testing and development of competing materials, gold is always defined as the standard material to be judged against. It is no coincidence that many practicing dentists choose gold restorations for the repair their of their own posterior (back) teeth. High-grade gold allow has the longest term clinical approval of all dental materials, including titanium and cobalt/nickel base alloys and all-ceramic crowns. The latter has excellent aesthetic properties but do not have the long-term clinical approval that gold has. For example, zirconia has only passed clinical tests during the last 10 years.

As technology progresses, special high gold alloys may be developed. Of the other competing materials, problems encountered with casting titanium remain, preventing widespread use of this material. Long-term use of cobalt/chromium alloys is increasing.  Besides long-term clinical approval and longevity, the most important advantages of gold alloys are easy workability, biocompatibility, aesthetics and maximum range of indications.

It is for these reasons Dr. Jamie Alexander keeps gold as a material choice for patients in the dental practice.