When a child needs a dental crown to secure a significantly decayed or otherwise damaged tooth, a dentist will fit a pre-made stainless steel crown. The material is strong while remaining very thin—meaning the tooth needs minimal preparation work (which is always best for a younger patient). The crown will ultimately be lost when the child's baby tooth is lost. Is there an equivalent metal crown that's suitable for permanent adult teeth?


Most adult crowns are made of tooth-colored material. They can be zirconia (a type of ceramic derived from zirconium oxide). Adult crowns can also be lithium disilicate, which is a type of glass ceramic. They can also be gold.

Valuable Purpose

Gold dental crowns may not sound all that appealing. It's not going to look natural, is it? But gold crowns can serve a valuable purpose in restoring human teeth, or at least, certain teeth in your mouth. There are some key benefits to rebuilding a significantly decayed rear molar with a gold crown. 

Surface Enamel

A dental crown isn't just pushed over the existing tooth. To do so would make the tooth larger, and problematically so. It would change the alignment of your bite and would create physical friction with the neighboring teeth. In short, it would be catastrophic for your dental health. Before fitting a crown, a dentist will gently exfoliate the tooth to remove a tiny layer of its surface enamel—with the thickness of this layer corresponding to the thickness of this crown to be fitted. How does this relate to a gold crown on your damaged molar tooth?


Zirconia and lithium disilicate must be thicker than a gold crown because the material isn't as strong and can't withstand the same degree of compression forces (during biting and chewing). A gold crown can be comparatively thin without the loss of strength, meaning less tooth material must be removed. This is good news when the tooth is already severely decayed, and removal of its structure will inevitably further weaken it. A gold dental crown keeps this removal within a manageable, safe margin. 


Gold crowns for molars must be manufactured at a specialist dental crown laboratory, and aren't as stereotypically gold as you might be thinking. Gold dental restorations are typically mixed with other base metals to create a gold alloy. This reduces the cost of the restoration (as you're not paying for pure gold), and can also desaturate the golden color of the crown, making it less obvious. It won't be all that obvious in any event, as the crown will be placed on a rear tooth. 

A severely and painfully decayed rear molar may need a crown, and surprisingly, the best choice for that crown can be gold.