For decades, gold was a popular option in teeth fillings, dental caps and dental crowns. But this precious metal is no longer so precious when it comes to restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry treatments. This is a trend a recent report attributes to the rise of teeth whitening and improved dental ceramics.

young woman enjoying the beautiful outdoors

The Golden Ages of Gold Dental Work

The use of gold in dental work dates back centuries. According to the American Dental Association’s History of Dentistry timeline, the Etruscans—a civilization that existed in ancient Italy and Corsica—first used gold in dental crowns and bridges sometime between 166 and 201 AD.

Gold luster ceramics has long been a status symbol, but the use of gold also has some practical purposes. Although gold has a reputation as being a relatively soft metal, it is durable in an alloy form. This is often used in dental work. Dentists preferred gold tooth caps for back teeth because it allowed the preservation of a significant portion of the natural tooth structure and it held up well under bite stress.

Gold for cosmetic dentistry purposes got a pop culture boost in the late 1990s and early 2000s thanks in large part to hip-hop. Nelly’s 2005 hit “Grillz” introduced mainstream America to the dental ornamentation of “grills,” gold-based and often-bejeweled prostheses favored by some rappers and sports stars at the time. Gold teeth still make appearances in mainstream rappers and sports stars today.

The Gold Hush

Until about 10 years ago, according to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, about 67 metric tons (nearly $3 billion worth) of gold were used annually in the making of dental fillings, caps and crowns. Over the past five years, however, the demand has plummeted nearly 60 percent. Why are people not getting gold teeth or gold tooth caps anymore?

Dentists and other experts interviewed for the article attribute gold’s drop in popularity for dental work to a perfect storm of factors. These include a trend toward whiter teeth, changes in dental technology, and the recession. Teeth whitening has become more popular as more options become available and more people learn how easy it is to restore a vibrant, healthy-looking smile. There have also been advancements in dental ceramics, such as porcelain veneers and dental crowns, as well as composite resins used for fillings.

With the recession, fewer people had money to spend on gold luster ceramics in dentistry. While gold has declined in popularity when it comes to dentistry, the article notes that its value as a commodity continues to rise.

Why You Don’t Want Gold Teeth

Although the idea of having gold teeth might sound appealing if you want to feel rich or look like a rapper, there are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t get them. For one, they are very expensive. Secondly, they don’t look natural. Porcelain restorations may not be as strong, but they look amazing. If your goal is to restore your smile most naturally and beautifully, going with a porcelain restoration is a much better option.

There is also the stigma associated with gold teeth. If you have gold teeth you might look like a rap star that can throw off potential employers or give people a reason to cast instant judgment upon you. If you want a beautiful smile, avoid gold luster ceramics and stick with luster teeth whitening and porcelain restorations instead.

The Gold Standard of Modern Dental Care

Your smile is one of your own most precious commodities. It helps you speak and eat, it conveys emotions, and it’s often one of the first things others notice about you.

Modern dental technology and techniques, employed by a knowledgeable and attentive cosmetic dentist, can help you restore or maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. If you’re seeking exceptional dental care in the Tulsa area, please call élan by Dr. Meghan Hodges at (918) 528-3330 to schedule your appointment.