Most major restorations like dental crowns are now fabricated out of porcelain materials, because they offer the ultimate in aesthetics for dental patients. You may have noticed however, that sometimes gold is still used, especially for teeth in the back of the mouth, that do not show when you talk or smile. Have you wondered why this is so?
Gold is extremely durable. In areas where increased pressure will be placed on a tooth over time, such as eating, gold offers a wonderful long-term alternative restoration compared to its porcelain counterparts. It is extremely pliable and easy to shape around areas that need small or large restorations.
Crowns, inlays and onlays are sometimes still made of gold. While most patients prefer to have a porcelain restoration, some dentists still offer gold as an alternative. It’s important to understand what benefits each type of restoration offers in addition to whether or not it simply appears to be aesthetic. Gold can wear a very long time, and allow smaller restorations in some cases than a porcelain crown. Gold inlays or onlays only take up a portion of the tooth, rather than cover the entire tooth surface the way a porcelain crown would, making them appropriate where a normal filling simply cannot function.
Not all dentists offer gold restorations on a regular basis, but it’s important to know that there is an alternative treatment for patients that may have concerns with fracturing porcelain restorations. Severe grinding or clenching of the teeth can lead to fractures or chipping in porcelain crowns. For patients that have bruxism habits, gold can be a useful alternative treatment choice.
If you need a filling, you will need to choose the material your dentist uses to fill the cavity. There are several types of materials commonly used in dentistry today and your dentist will probably offer you one or more alternatives. Gold, silver amalgam, and composite resin are the most commonly used materials for fillings. Each has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Silver amalgam is a mixture of silver, mercury, tin, zinc, and copper is a very common material for fillings. Amalgam is a strong, durable, inexpensive filling material. It is relatively easy to use and the filling can be done in a single visit to the dentist’s office. Many patients don’t like the silver color and teeth with amalgam fillings tend to crack at a higher rate than other types of fillings.
Gold is also a good material for fillings. It is strong and durable and can last 10 to 15 years or longer. Many patients prefer the look of gold fillings over silver amalgam. However, gold fillings are more difficult to place and usually require more than one visit to the dentist. In addition, they are much more expensive than silver amalgam.
Composite resins are tooth colored material so the filling match your teeth. They can usually be installed in a single visit, although the process takes a little longer than amalgam fillings. Composite resins are more expensive than amalgam, but not nearly as expensive as gold fillings. The main drawback to composites is that they are not as durable as gold or amalgam. Composite fillings only last 5 to 10 years.
Your dentist will help you choose the best material for your filling.
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