Do you have dental scrap lying around from old dental restorations that have been replaced? Many dental crowns and bridges are made with precious metal alloys that can be worth real money. Whether you have had an old crown replaced or you are a dentist who has a collection of dental scrap taking up space, it’s easy to convert many types of dental scrap into cash. 

What is Dental Scrap?
Dental scrap includes any type of material with a value higher than the cost of processing and recycling it into something new. Many bridges and crowns are made with metal alloys that contain precious metals like gold, platinum, palladium, and silver. Potentially high-value dental scrap includes inlays, onlays, caps, bridges, crowns, and dental sweeps.

Dental scrap that typically has no value includes amalgam dental fillings and silver-colored partial dentures.

What is Dental Scrap Worth?
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to determine the precious metal content of dental scrap on your own. Silver-colored or “white gold” crowns may have a high precious metal content and yellow gold crowns are usually made with 10 to 18 karat gold, but some crowns that are yellow or white in appearance actually have very little value. It’s best to send in any dental scrap that you believe may have value as the refiner can assess them using X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (XRF) to identify the percentage of various precious metals.

Dental scrap that is worth sending in to a dental scrap buyer or refining company includes:

  • Yellow-gold crowns, inlays, and overlays typically have the highest value.
  • All-metal restorations, bridges, and porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns have less metal but they can still be worth money.
  • “White gold” or silver-colored dental work can have 40% or more gold content along with palladium and platinum.

Assuming a gold crown weighs one-tenth of an ounce, it can be worth as little as $40 if the alloy is 10 karat (40% gold) or more than $90 if the alloy is 22 karat (92% gold) based on a gold price of $1,000 per ounce. On average, a gold crown will be worth about $57 at this spot price. This is a low estimate, however, as the spot price of gold has topped $1,200 in 2017 and gone as high as $2,000 per ounce in recent years.

Gold prices change daily so the value of your dental scrap will depend on current market conditions. Keep in mind dental crowns and bridges are not worth the full market value of the precious metal as the metal is not usable or pure until it’s refined. The refiner or gold buyer will adjust the price you receive to cover the refining costs. This fee may be 15% to 18% of the current value of the metal.

If you’re planning to sell dental scrap, don’t worry about removing any tooth material, porcelain, or cement. A serious dental scrap buyer will be prepared to handle this for you by putting all of the scrap into a crucible and separating the metal by melting it down. It’s a good idea to work with a buyer experienced with dental scrap as many gold buyers simply weigh the dental work after separating it into porcelain-covered and all-metal groups and make a low offer assuming the dental work has a low gold content. A refinery specializing in dental crowns and bridges will use state-of-the-art technology to determine the precise amounts of various precious metals for a more accurate (and higher!) offer.