Gold Crowns

What are Gold Crowns for Teeth?

Dental crowns are recommended for teeth that have had previous tooth decay, root canals, or trauma. When a tooth is missing substantial structure, it does not have the support to withstand biting forces. 

Gold dental crowns have been used for thousands of years. They have biocompatible properties and material benefits like strength and malleability. 

These days, gold crowns are not as popular because of their high price and poor esthetics. Instead, other types of crowns like porcelain are more popular because of their highly esthetic properties. 

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Where are Gold Crowns Typically Placed?

Technically, a gold crown can restore any tooth, but they are traditionally placed on back teeth because of their strength. Gold crowns can withstand forces from chewing without chipping or fracturing.

Some people will opt for gold crowns on their front teeth as a fashion statement or cultural purpose. It is common to see people opting for gold teeth grills or front teeth as a status symbol. 

Gold Crown Procedure Steps 

Dental crowns traditionally have very similar steps. However, gold crowns require less reduction of tooth structure than other types of crowns. The steps of a gold crown procedure include: 

  1. Consultation. Your dentist will evaluate your need for a gold crown by a clinical examination, dental x-ray, and medical history. 
  2. Local anesthetic. Your dentist will administer local anesthetic to get you numb so that the procedure is comfortable. 
  3. Tooth preparation. To make a gold crown, your dentist needs to remove a portion of the tooth structure to make space for the crown. In terms of tooth removal, gold crowns require the most minor removal of tooth structure compared to other crown types. Therefore, they are considered the most conservative type. 
  4. Dental impression. A putty impression is taken to create a mold of your tooth. A bite registration is taken so that the proper occlusion can be created. The impression and bite registration are sent to the laboratory so that the gold alloy crown can be custom-made and fabricated. 
  5. Temporary crown. A temporary crown is fabricated chairside to protect your tooth. A temporary, weaker cement is used until your permanent crown is ready.
  6. Permanent cementation. When your gold crown is ready, your dentist will check the fit and bite and permanently cement it. 

How Strong and Durable are Gold Crowns?

Gold crowns are highly durable crowns and can withstand significant chewing forces. They will not break down as quickly as other types of crowns and are the best choice for strength.

If you are a heavy grinder, a gold crown may be beneficial because it is strong and durable to withstand biting pressure without breaking. They are an excellent option for people who have TMJ problems and bruxism habits.

How Long Do Gold Crowns Last?

Gold crowns are strong and, with proper maintenance, can last up to twenty years. Some people will have a gold crown for even longer if they brush and floss regularly and attend routine dental visits. 

Dental Crown Gold

Advantages of Gold Crowns

There are several benefits of gold crowns to your oral health. Many people choose a gold crown because it has a higher success rate than other types in terms of durability. Your dental professional can discuss the entire process, fees, and aftercare with you. 

Other advantages include: 

  • Gold crowns are beneficial to your oral health because they won’t cause any adverse reactions. They adapt well to your gum line and are not irritants. 
  • Gold is highly resistant to corrosion and withstands stronger forces to avoid fractures and chips.
  • Gold crowns are gentle against opposing teeth. While there is always tooth wear from occlusion forces, gold has a similar hardness to teeth, so excess wear is significantly minimized. Porcelain can also cause wear of your natural tooth.
  • Gold is very malleable and can seal the margin of a tooth well to prevent further decay.

Disadvantages of Gold Crowns

The most common downsides of a gold crown include:

  • Poor esthetics. Gold crowns are simply not as aesthetic as more advanced types of crowns like porcelain and zirconia. Instead, they are more likely used as a fashion statement or for cultural purposes. 
  • High cost. While gold crowns used to be very popular, they are less common nowadays because of the high cost of gold. The gold alloy is expensive and can be much pricier than other types of crowns due to high laboratory costs. 
  • Allergies. If you have metal allergies to chromium or palladium that is part of a gold alloy crown, you may benefit more from a different type of crown. Instead, choose porcelain or ceramic crown to avoid any allergic reaction.

Gold Crown vs. Porcelain Crown

Gold vs. Porcelain Crown Strength

Gold is much stronger than porcelain in terms of strength and can withstand stronger forces. This means that it is more likely for your porcelain crown to be worn down over time from occluding teeth or chewing than gold crowns. 

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Molars used for chewing are better off with a gold crown because less tooth structure needs to be removed. A thin gold crown is still very strong and can protect a tooth, whereas more tooth structure needs to be removed to make space for a porcelain or zirconia crown. 

Gold vs. Porcelain Crown Durability

Gold is more durable than porcelain and can last decades, if not a lifetime. Porcelain crowns offer greater esthetics but have a higher potential of breaking down and fracturing. They are more beneficial for front teeth where aesthetics are a concern. For posterior teeth, it is beneficial to get a porcelain-metal combination to maintain both aesthetics and durability. 

Porcelain is also known to shrink over time and react more to chewing forces that may cause craze lines and fractures. Gold is very bendable and can make a precise fit to the tooth. 

Gold vs. Porcelain Crown Cost

Gold crowns and porcelain crowns are a costly but beneficial investment for your oral health. Gold crowns can range in cost because gold is significantly more expensive than other materials. 

Gold crowns may cost anywhere from $800 to $2,500. A porcelain crown is also expensive. They can typically range from $800 to $3,000 per tooth. 

When Should You Get a Gold Crown?

A gold crown is recommended for people who need additional support for a tooth. It is beneficial for teeth that are prone to break or that cannot withhold a traditional filling. Other situations you may need a gold crown may be:

  • A tooth that had a root canal treatment and needs full coverage
  • Lack of tooth structure from trauma or worn down teeth
  • Severe tooth decay
  • To restore a tooth that is discolored 
  • To cover a dental bridge or dental implant

What to Do if a Gold Crown Falls Out 

If a gold crown falls out, you should call your dentist to re-cement, repair, or replace it to avoid any side effects to your natural tooth. If you cannot get an immediate appointment, you can try a temporary over-the-counter cement before you can get it permanently cemented. 

Remember in the meantime to:

  • Avoid hard, crunchy foods to prevent harm to the underlying tissues. 
  • Clean the crown gently with soap and water. Keep it in a safe place to bring to your dentist.
  • Gently brush your teeth to keep the area clean and void of plaque and irritants.
  • Chew on the opposite side of your mouth if possible.  

How Much Do Gold Crowns Cost?

Gold crowns can range in cost from $800 to $1,400 per tooth, depending on the area of your mouth. Most times, the high price is more dependent upon the laboratory than the dentist’s labor. Without insurance, an all-gold crown may cost up to $2,500. 

There are insurance companies that will cover portions of a gold crown if it can be justified clinically that it is beneficial.

Resources

Barlett, David. Complex multiple fixed and combined fixed and removable prosthodontics, Advanced Operative Dentistry, Churchill Livingstone, 2011,Pages 201-213. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780702031267000168

Colgate. Gold Tooth Crown Facts and History. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/bridges-and-crowns/gold-tooth-crown-facts-and-history

Penn Dental Medicine. What are crowns made of, anyway? https://penndentalmedicine.org/what-are-dental-crowns-made-of/

Wagner J, Hiller KA, Schmalz G. Long-term clinical performance and longevity of gold alloy vs ceramic partial crowns. Clin Oral Investig. 2003 Jun. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12743836/

Image used - https://www.flickr.com/photos/193955193@N07/51628677511/

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