Gold Fillings

When it comes to dental fillings, patients have several options, including amalgam, composite resin, and porcelain. Gold is less common than other types, but it has been used in dentistry for over 4,000 years. Gold fillings have a long history and are known for their durability and longevity. In this blog post, we will explore their unique features, benefits, drawbacks, and alternatives.

History of Gold Fillings

Gold has been used in dentistry since ancient times. The earliest evidence of gold fillings dates back to Egypt around 700 BC. It was also used by the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization, and the Romans. In the 1800s, dentists started using pure gold to fill cavities. However, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that a method for making gold fillings was developed.

What are Gold Fillings?

Gold fillings, also known as gold inlays or onlays, are made from an alloy of gold mixed with other metals, such as silver, copper, and palladium. This mixture creates a strong material that is resistant to wear and tear. The gold filling is custom-made to fit the shape and size of your tooth and is then cemented into place. Gold inlays and onlays are used for large cavities in the back teeth (molars and premolars) because they are durable and can withstand chewing pressure.

Benefits of Gold Fillings

Gold fillings (inlays and onlays) offer numerous benefits compared to other types of fillings. Here are some advantages of gold inlays and onlays:

  • Durability: One of the biggest advantages of gold fillings is their longevity. While other types may last anywhere from 5 to 15 years, gold fillings can last up to 30 years.
  • Strength: Gold is a highly durable material, making it an excellent choice for fillings. It can withstand the force of chewing and grinding without breaking or cracking.
  • Biocompatibility: Gold is a biocompatible material, meaning it is unlikely to cause any allergic reactions or adverse effects in the body.
  • Perfect Fit: Gold inlays and onlays are custom-made to fit the cavity perfectly, preventing bacteria from entering and causing further decay.
  • Expands and contracts with the tooth: Gold has a similar coefficient of thermal expansion as natural teeth, meaning they expand and contract at the same rate. This makes them less likely to cause cracks or fractures in the tooth.

The Aesthetic Concerns

While gold fillings offer several benefits, they are not without their drawbacks. One major concern is their appearance. Gold inlays and onlays are highly noticeable, making them less desirable for some people who want a natural-looking smile. However, they can be a good option for back molars where aesthetics is less concerned.

How Gold Fillings Are Placed?

The procedure for placing gold fillings is similar to other types of fillings and usually involves 2 visits to the dentist. During the first visit, the decayed part of the tooth is removed, and an impression is taken to create a custom filling. The gold filling is then fabricated in a dental lab and sent to the dentist for placement.

On your second visit, the dentist will clean and prepare the cavity before placing the gold filling. They will ensure it fits perfectly and then cement it in place using a special cement. The filling is then shaped and polished for a smooth finish.

What are The Drawbacks of Gold Fillings?

While gold fillings offer several benefits, they also have some drawbacks to consider. The most significant disadvantage is their high cost compared to other types of fillings.

Additionally, the procedure for placing gold inlays and onlays is more complex and time-consuming, requiring two separate visits to the dentist.

Furthermore, gold inlays and onlays are highly noticeable and may not be suitable for those seeking a more natural-looking smile. Porcelain fillings or composite fillings may be a better option where aesthetics are a concern.

What are the Alternatives?

While gold fillings have been used for many years, advancements in dental technology have introduced several alternatives. These include:

  • Amalgam fillings: They are made from a mixture of metals, amalgam fillings are a durable and cost-effective option. However, they are silver in color and can also contain mercury, which has raised health concerns in recent years.
  • Composite resin fillings: These tooth-colored fillings are made from a mixture of plastic and glass materials. They blend in with the natural tooth color but may not be as long-lasting as gold inlays and onlays. Discuss the pros and cons of amalgam vs composite fillings with your dentist.
  • Ceramic fillings: Also known as inlays or onlays, ceramic fillings are made from a porcelain material that is strong and natural-looking. However, they can be more expensive than other options.

Care and Maintenance of Gold Fillings

To ensure the longevity of your fillings, it is essential to maintain good oral hygiene habits. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups.

It is also crucial to avoid chewing on hard objects such as ice or pencils, which can damage the filling. If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend a mouthguard to protect your fillings.


Gold fillings have been used for centuries and offer many benefits, such as durability, strength, and biocompatibility. However, with the introduction of newer materials, patients now have more options to choose from, such as composite resin and ceramic fillings. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, so discuss with your dentist which filling material would be best for you based on your specific needs and budget.

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