When is gold a preferred tooth filling?

Gold is the best material for filling and restoring teeth. It fits the tooth more accurately than other filling materials and wears more like the enamel of teeth. Today, it is mainly used in areas where there is limited space and in cases of bruxism. Gold would be good for crowns on posterior teeth where esthetics is not a concern.
Todd A. Welch, DMD
When the term "Gold" is used in dentistry, it is usually describing an alloy that contains gold. An alloy is a mixture of two or more metals that have atomically bonded together.

When gold is put into the mouth as crowns or indirect fillings, it is found as an alloy. The gold found in your mouth is usually combined with silver, copper, platinum, palladium, and/or zinc.

There is a very uncommon exception: direct gold fillings. Direct gold fillings are pure gold. The dentist simply condenses very fine sheets of gold into your tooth and they weld together at room temperature. These fillings aren't very strong, but they are an excellent choice for areas on your teeth that don't need to withstand lots of force. Direct gold fillings are rarely done today due to its high cost, sensitive technique, and the availability of newer, more esthetic composite filling materials. More than likely, if you've had a gold filling, it was made at a lab and is a gold alloy.
Gold is one of the most durable materials we have in dentistry. It is kind to the opposing teeth as related to wear. Less tooth reduction is needed for the restoration as compared to a porcelain restoration and it can't fracture. Gold restorations, crowns or partial crowns (inlays, onlays or 3/4 crowns) function in the mouth for many years. It is a wonderful choice if esthetics are not a concern.
Gold is a preferred tooth filling when you  get inlay fillings, a type of natural-looking filling. Gold fillings contain approximately 75% gold, combined with other metals. They are very durable, lasting typically 10 to 15 years. The type of filling you receive will depend upon the amount and location of tooth decay, as well as how much you're willing to pay. Gold fillings tend to cost more money than other fillings and are harder to prepare. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.