Gold has been in use in dentistry since the time of the ancient Egyptians, and even today remains undisputed as the most long-lasting material for dental restorations. Gold fillings, also called inlays or onlays, are composed of an alloy of gold, copper and other metals.
This type of dental filling is usually considered the most durable, lasting 20 years or more, but it is also the most costly. Gold fillings also require more than one office visit to place because they require impressions to manufacture at a dental laboratory.
Gold is highly pliable, making it an excellent material for shaping and rebuilding tooth structure. It is "biocompatible", meaning it is safe and non-toxic; gum tissues do not become irritated with gold as they do with some restorative materials.
With inherent properties that allow it to expand and contract with thermal changes in the mouth, gold does not crack, chip or shrink as is possible with other dental materials. The strength of gold makes it ideal for repairing back teeth, and it can be used as a backing for porcelain restorations in front teeth for added reinforcement to sustain biting pressures.
Our dentists provide conservative gold restorations, such as inlays and onlays, wherever possible, as they require removal of less tooth structure than a crown. Gold is the optimal upgrade from a filling, many patients retain gold restorations for a lifetime. Because of their tolerance of temperature changes in the mouth, gold inlays and onlays are typically less sensitive than silver or tooth-colored fillings.