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What are Gold Tooth Crowns?

A gold tooth crown is a cap that fits over a tooth to restore its form and function after breakage, decay, or root canal treatment. Dentists also use gold crowns to replace missing teeth with dental bridges or partial dentures.

Gold is one of the oldest tooth repair materials in the dental industry. But laboratories can now make dental crowns from various materials, including metal, porcelain, zirconia, or porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM). 

Types of Gold Dental Crowns 

A gold crown is a type of metal crown that may be made of gold alloy or PFM that fuses gold and porcelain. Because gold in pure form is soft and malleable, laboratories mix it with other metals to create dental crowns. 

Gold crowns typically consist of three types of  metal alloys:1

  1. High noble alloy — Made from a minimum of 60% noble metal like gold, platinum, or palladium, with at least 40% gold.
  2. Noble alloy — Made from a minimum of 25% precious metal.
  3. Non-noble alloy — Made from less than 25% precious metal and contains large percentages of nickel, cobalt, or other base metals.

Benefits of Gold Crowns

Gold crowns have numerous benefits and are extremely durable. They’re a great option for people who have signs of heavy wear on their teeth.

Some benefits of gold crowns include:2

  • Can withstand heavy biting and chewing forces
  • Rarely chip, break, or become brittle
  • Long-lasting
  • Only require minor tooth removal
  • Cause minimal wear to the opposing tooth 
  • Biocompatible

Most people only need to have a gold crown replaced if the tooth underneath becomes injured or decayed. They’re a great investment and cost-effective over time. 

Downsides of Gold Crowns

People who prefer natural tooth-colored crowns may be opposed to the highly visible color and shine of a gold crown, especially on the front teeth. However, for others, the appearance of gold crowns is part of the reason they choose this type of dental restoration.

Aside from aesthetic concerns, on rare occasions, gold crowns may trigger an allergic reaction if you have a metal allergy. Here are the side effects to look out for:3

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Irritation
  • Burning sensation
  • Ulcers
  • Lesions or sores called a lichenoid reaction

How Much Do Gold Crowns Cost?

You can expect to pay from $800 to $2500 for a gold crown. Gold crowns are a costly investment because gold is an expensive material. 

The specific price you’ll pay can vary by the dental office, location, and where the crown is placed in the mouth. Usually, insurance doesn’t fully cover the cost, but it’s worth checking your coverage with your insurer. 

Other Types of Crowns & Their Costs

Dental crowns differ in their materials, price points, advantages, and disadvantages. 

Here’s how they compare:

Gold vs. Porcelain Crowns

Porcelain crowns are the most popular type of crown because they’re strong and aesthetically pleasing. Because their natural appearance matches your surrounding teeth in shape, size, and color, they’re the best option for front tooth restorations.

Also, as they contain only porcelain and no metal, they’re free of toxins and rarely cause allergic reactions. 

However, they’re not as strong as gold crowns and are not suitable for people who grind their teeth.

The price of a gold crown varies due to the price influxes of gold in the stock market.

Gold vs. Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Crowns (PFM) 

PFM crowns are another popular and widely used type of dental crowns that have been popular for decades. Laboratories fabricate these hybrid crowns with a metal alloy interior and a porcelain exterior. They combine the strength and durability of metal crowns with the aesthetics of porcelain crowns.

Although a PFM crown is less costly than a porcelain crown or gold crown, there are some drawbacks. For example, you may notice a gray line at the gum because of its metal interior. Normally, the gum covers the gray line, but it can show if the gum line recedes. Some people dislike the dark line, particularly on the front teeth.

Also, compared to other options, dentists must remove more of the natural tooth to fit a PFM dental crown.5

Because PFM crowns have an opaque metal base underneath the porcelain layer, they don’t usually mimic the natural transparency of teeth, and the crown may appear more flat or opaque than neighboring teeth.

If you select a PFM dental crown, you should also be aware that you could have an adverse reaction if you have sensitivities to certain metals.

PFM crowns are cheaper than gold or porcelain crowns and typically cost $500 to $1,500 per tooth, depending on the metal alloy used.

Gold vs. Zirconia Crowns

Zirconia crowns are made of incredibly durable “ceramic steel” that can last as long as gold crowns.6 But unlike gold, zirconia resembles the appearance of natural teeth.

Another advantage of zirconia crowns is that many dental professionals can cut and shape them in their clinics. This could mean a same-day procedure, rather than waiting for a laboratory to manufacture a permanent crown and then returning to the dentist.

Although zirconia crowns have many advantages, you can expect to pay upwards of $1,000. 

In addition to the cost, another concern is the material’s durability. Because the material is so strong, it can erode opposing teeth, which isn’t an issue with gold crowns.8

Summary

There are different types of dental crowns available. Gold crowns, for example, are strong, durable, and can last a lifetime with proper care. 

However, some people don’t like the appearance of gold crowns. In these cases, they might choose porcelain or PFM crowns instead, which blend in with your natural teeth.

Your dentist can advise you on the type of crown that’s best for your oral health and budget.

Last updated on April 22, 2022
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 22, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1.  Materials for indirect restorations.” The American Dental Association, 2021
  2.  Dental crowns." The Cleveland Clinic, 2020
  3. Moller, H,. et al. “Dental gold alloys and contact allergy.” Contact Dermatitis, 2002
  4. Fan, H,. et al. “Relationship between squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue and the position of dental prosthesis.” The Journal of Advanced Prosthodontics, 2015
  5. Makhija, S., et al. “Dentist material selection for single unit crowns: Findings from The National Dental Practice Based Research Network.” Journal of Dentistry, 2016
  6. Monaco, C., et al. “Zirconia based versus metal-based single crowns veneered with over pressing ceramic for restoration of posterior endodontically treated teeth: 5 year results of a randomized controlled clinical study.” Journal of Dentistry, 2017
  7. Bona, Alvaro Della et al. “Zirconia as a Dental Biomaterial.” Materials (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 8,8 4978-4991. 4 Aug. 2015, doi:10.3390/ma8084978
  8. Soleimani, F., et al. “Retention and clinical performance of zirconia crowns: A comprehensive review.” International Journal of Dentistry, 2020
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