Nearly everyone who has had dental work has some kind of metal in their mouth. Even if it isn’t visible, metal is an essential component of many dental appliances and devices. When these need to be removed, don’t discard them—the metal in your mouth is recyclable, and you can get paid for it.
Many adults have fillings made from amalgams, which are alloys of metals such as silver, gold, tin, zinc, and copper that were placed decades ago. Metal fillings are still commonly used by many dentists. On average, fillings last about 10 to 15 years.
When these are removed from teeth for further treatment, they don’t need to be discarded. Regardless of what metals they may contain, they can be recycled. The amalgams are put through a refining machine to separate out the valuable metals, such as gold and silver.
Some dental crowns are made entirely from metal. Gold is a traditional choice because of its strength and durability. Stainless steel is also popular, especially for temporary crowns that will eventually be replaced by porcelain. Some porcelain crowns, which are tinted to match your teeth, are lined with metal to increase the sturdiness.
Gold or other all-metal crowns are easily recyclable as they are. Gold crowns are especially valuable, though the gold is always mixed with other metals. The purity averages about 16 to 18 karat. Dental waste recyclers can also separate the metal lining from a porcelain crown.
Dental implants are becoming more common, and while they are designed to last a lifetime, occasionally they fail and must be removed. More commonly, the metal abutment and replacement crown attached to the implant will wear out and need to be replaced.
Implants and abutments are usually made of titanium or titanium alloys. Like other metal dental waste, they can be recycled rather than discarded. Companies specializing in dental waste recycling will accept them along with other metals.
Recycling the metal in your mouth is environmentally responsible because it conserves precious metals and keeps harmful substances out of landfills. What’s more, companies that collect and recycle dental waste will pay you for your scrap. Both individuals and dental practices can take advantage of this service, so before you throw out that metal, check to see whether it can be recycled.
You can earn money by recycling your dental metal waste. Click here to learn how.