When your dentist finds a small area of tooth decay, he or she will normally recommend dental fillings. A filling closes off a space in the tooth where bacteria can get in and stops any further decay causing any problems. Amalgam (silver) or composite (white) fillings are popular with many patients, but some dentists recommend gold fillings. If your dentist suggests that you need this type of treatment for your tooth, find out why it's worth considering the investment in a gold filling.
Before using a gold filling, your dentist will clean the affected area of the tooth and then make an impression of the prepared cavity. He or she will then send this impression away to a laboratory, where a specialist team will make the inlay precisely to order. When your dentist receives the filling, he or she will then fix it in place with a special dental cement.
This process allows the dentist to fill the tooth more precisely than he or she could with other material. For the patient, this means that the finished filling perfectly matches the cavity and any adjacent teeth. As such, after the dentist puts the gold filling in place, you can chew food normally, without any disruption between the two biting surfaces of the filled tooth and other teeth.
As a filling, gold is the most durable material you can choose. A gold filling will never normally break or fracture, while other materials can sometimes fail under load, especially over time. Composite and amalgam fillings will slowly erode, which means you may need to return to the dentist to have the filling replaced or repaired. In fact, for many people, gold fillings can last up to thirty years.
Similarity to your tooth structure
Your teeth are quite remarkable objects and must undergo various ongoing stresses and strains. For example, you may not realize it, but when you eat hot and cold foods, your teeth expand and contract slightly. As such, when this happens, it's important that any filling material in the tooth expands and contracts simultaneously.
Gold fillings create a structure that is very similar to the natural formation of a tooth. Scientists refer to this as the coefficient of expansion, but this basically means that a gold filling expands and contracts with temperature like a tooth. Over time, this means there is less chance that the filling could come loose.
While composite fillings generally blend in with the natural color of a tooth, it's difficult to get a perfect match, so even white fillings are not always entirely innocuous in the mouth. Amalgam fillings are very obvious, and some people don't like the fact that other people can easily see these fillings when they yawn or open their mouth widely.
Although a gold filling doesn't exactly blend in naturally, some people like the effect that this type of filling creates. While dentists use as little material as possible, gold creates a smart, clean look. What's more, a gold filling will not discolor the adjacent tooth.
When a technician makes a gold filling in a laboratory, he or she can create a more precise finish. As such, the finished filling is normally perfectly smooth, and, once fitted, you can run your tongue over the filling without really knowing it is there. Some other types of filling will leave a slightly rough surface that may take time to grow smoother. The polished surface of a gold filling is also less likely to attract plaque.
Gold fillings don't absorb fluids, either. Saliva and other oral fluids can sometimes penetrate the outer layer of a composite filling. If enough fluid gets in this type of filling, you may experience a rather unpleasant smell. Gold is a noble metal, so it won't oxidize or corrode over time, either, unlike an amalgam filling.
Gold fillings are not as common as cheaper products like composite or amalgam fillings, but there are several advantages of this material. Talk to your dentist for more information and advice.