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, a trend a recent report attributes to the rise of teeth whitening and improved dental ceramics.
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 dental work 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, which is often used in dental work; gold was particularly preferred as crown material for back teeth because it allowed a significant portion of the natural tooth structure to be preserved 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.
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 was used annually in the making of dental fillings, caps and crowns. Over the past five years, however, the demand has plummeted nearly 60 percent.
Dentists and other experts interviewed for the article attribute gold’s drop in popularity for dental work to a perfect storm of factors: 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. Advancements have also been made in dental ceramics, such as porcelain veneers and porcelain crowns, as well as composite resins used for fillings.
And with the recession, fewer people had money to spend on gold dental work. While gold has declined in popularity when it comes to dentistry, the article notes that its value as a commodity continues to rise.
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 Winters Dental Excellence at (918) 528-3330 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Kevin Winters.