Gold is making a comeback…
In dental work.

Obviously gold has always been held in high esteem. Its malleability and electrical conductivity are highly prized in electronic circuits. Its beauty and ability to retain its luster has made it the metal of choice for jewelry from the beginning of recorded history. Gold in the form of coinage is found in excavation sites of the most ancient civilizations. And until recently, gold in the form of bullion was used as the reserve that was the basis of many financial systems around the globe. (If you like, you can even make an appointment with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in lower Manhattan to take a tour and view one of the largest holdings of gold bullion in the world.)

Gold’s value is based on the unique multiplicity of its characteristics – its functionality, its inherent visual beauty, and its rarity.

In the history of dentistry, there is evidence that as early as 700 BC in Eustria – what today is parts of modern Italy – gold was used to wire teeth together.

One of the first written references to the use of gold in tooth care appears in 1530 with German dentist, Artzney Buchlein’s, The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth. Among other topics related to dental hygiene, it describes how to impress gold into cavities as proto-fillings. In 1746 Claude Molton describes how a gold crown post can be retained within the root canal. In 1855 Robert Arthur pioneered a new method in which gold is heated to make it soft enough to be shaped, molded and placed within cavities.

In the 20th century, the use of gold and gold alloys in dentistry expanded, being used in dental bridges, bridgework, clasps, crowns, fillings, and inlays.

Gold bridge

In the 1970s, there was a move away from gold to porcelain. Porcelain, or ceramic crowns, were first introduced in the late 19th century. The changeover to porcelain was driven by three factors, the improved qualities or dental porcelain, cosmetic preference by patients for crowns that looked indistinguishable from real teeth, and finally the rising cost of gold.

Today though, Dr. Anna Radziwon of The Rockefeller Cosmetic Dental Group speaks of a change in the tide and a return to gold as a medium of choice for modern dental work: “Gold does retain certain advantages over porcelain.” She listed a compelling set of reasons:

“First, porcelain is susceptible to stress fractures. If you bite something hard porcelain can crack. A gold metal crown is strong and it will not crack under the stress of biting.

“Second, gold is also strong even in thin sheets. Thus the dentist can retain more of the original tooth. With a porcelain crown, the dentist needs to grind down more of the original tooth structure so that a strong and thick enough crown can be fixed. Keeping as much of the original tooth is important for the overall health of the teeth, gums, and mouth.

“Finally, gold is chemically inert. This means that it won’t tarnish or stain. Nor will any of the metal leech into the saliva or bloodstream.”

Dr. Radziwon donned her perspective as a cosmetic dentist when she commented, “There is a renaissance of gold as a fashion statement. We went through an era when patients wanted teeth that looked and matched the color of their original teeth. Today, that’s changing. More and more of our patients are asking about gold restoration of their teeth as a personal statement of who they are – healthy and colorful.”

Are there side effects? “While side effects from a gold alloy crown are rare, they can affect some people. Possible side effects include redness, swelling, lip and mouth pain, gum swelling and irritation, occasional mouth sores, and possible allergic reactions. But again side effects are rare. And no more so from the side effects from any other dental procedure.”

Cost? “The difference between gold and porcelain dental work is not extravagant. It is a conversation definitely worth having with your dentist.”

For more information on treatments for gold or porcelain crowns
Contact Dr. Anna Radziwon at
Rockefeller Cosmetic Dentistry 
Address: 630 5th Ave #1803, New York, NY 10111
Phone: (212) 581-1091